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Moseley Bog Friends' Blog 21/10/15

Posted: Tuesday 27th October 2015 by James.A

These blog posts are sent in by Mary Girvan of the Friends of Moseley Bog & Joy's Wood to give a personal perspective of a day in the life of a volunteer. She also does the twitter feed for @mosbogfriends.

The last time I heard the word scallop was in one of my favourite restaurants. It was a starter, pan-fried with lime and coriander. So when Paul mentioned we'd be doing scalloping, I thought there had been some marvellous new discovery - the bog scallop - I bet we have to keep that quiet I thought. And when he said we might do some coppicing first, I thought great we're going to barbecue them on a fire in the illegal fire pit - how daring of him. But of course I should have known better. Even if the bog scallop existed we wouldn't eat it, we're the Wildlife Trust for heavens sake!

Our job today was to cut scallops (large semi-circles) into the vegetation on the edge of the paths and the meadows. Along the path the scallops on alternate sides should be offset from each other, like a rather large serpent slithering along. This prevents the vegetation from creating tunnels over the path. Along the meadow edges it prevents unwanted vegetation from spreading to where it shouldn't, maintaining a defined edge to the woodland. Without this the thicket and woodland would take over everything.

So with loppers, saws and billhooks in hand, we worked our way into the dense thickets of dogwood, Gelder rose, blackthorn and of course bramble and those giant nettles that we always battle. The thicket was at it most dense from toe to thigh, so the Gelder roses had climbed in a rapid tangle in their desperation to reach for the sky. Sawing off what looked like a minor lower limb necessitated tugging something three or four times the length you thought you were dealing with from the canopy - at least two body weights required for this. As we encountered young oaks which had also sprawled out limbs willy nilly to catch light, we tidied away the ungainly branches with our saws, stood back and admired the proper trees they would grow into. When it came to hazels, these were coppiced, which as well as letting in the light provides materials for us to use elsewhere.

We hid the prepared sticks for repeating the wicker work around the burnt mound at a later date.

When I worked in an office I used to dream of being able to see a result for the daily toil. Now as we enjoy the new vista's where once was deep thicket, and think about the new woodland plants to come, I feel very satisfied.

Mary Girvan

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