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Moseley Bog Friends' Blog 12/5/15

Posted: Wednesday 13th May 2015 by Joe.P

The new log pathbuilding a new log path

These blog posts are sent in by members of the Friends of Moseley Bog & Joy's Wood to give a personal perspective of a day in the life of a volunteer. This first post was written by Mary Girvan, who also does the twitter feed for @mosbogfriends.

Awoken at 5.30 by the dogs howling - note to self, get them a blackout curtain. Looks a bit windy out, not good for a day at bog. Back to sleep. 7.30 looks bright and still - that's better. It's building log paths today. If you ever walk around the back of the bog past the victorian gardens in winter, you'll know how claggy it gets, so raising the paths out of the mud will help a lot.

We meet at 10am in the Yardley Wood Road car park. The large car park is opened for volunteers so there's plenty of room. There's a bus stop right outside too. Alison, our Reserve Officer, and Doug and Gabe this year's trainees, all from The Wildlife Trust are waiting with the tools laid out; spades, bow saws, a bill hook and the first aid kit. Today we also have a washing up bowl and some handwash - clearly expecting mud !

Whilst volunteers arrive and sign in we sneak to see if the great spotted woodpecker pair are at their nest. Walk a little way down the main path towards the boardwalk, and where a small path goes left to the old felled birch, there's a tree on the corner. Look up and you'll see about 5 or 6 holes - looks like a block of flats for woodpeckers. Charles and Camilla are using the lowest one. Don't stand too close or they won't come, but we see them flying in and out fetching and carrying.

We could spend all day doing this, but there's work to do. We pick up our tools and walk along the boardwalk, past the ancient oak and the beautiful cracked willow who looks like he's waiting to engulf you with his tentacles, before turning left on the old railway sleepers and around to our workplace for the day. As always, Alison reminds us of the safe way to carry and use these tools.

We've previously built dead hedges here to guide people along one path and allow vegetation to grow back on the other areas. Most of the group go off to the new meadow area at Pensby Close to collect logs for the path, whilst 2 of us start to bed in the logs we placed on the path last week. This is a most enjoyable task if you like mud. We collect shovelfuls of mud from the boggy area and use it as a sort of mortar around the logs, packing it in with our hands (rubber gloved of course!). If the logs are a bit bent then we dig in the wobbly bits to stop them rolling.

We're hoping to complete a stretch about 10m long and you need a lot of logs for that, so the team are walking back and forth with logs most of the morning, while others are shovelling mud, packing the path, or sawing logs to length - better than the gym.

We take the jobs in turn to spread the load, and everyone looks out for each other. At about 12.30pm we stop for lunch and are well ready for it. Most bring sandwiches and fruit, and the trust staff bring tea coffee and biscuits. We use some of the logs to sit on in the dappled sunlight. The birds and children from the nearby school provide the soundtrack to our usual gossip - "what have you been up to since I last saw you ?".

It might sound odd, but it's lovely sitting there. If you enjoy a picnic you'll know what I mean. The afternoon is pretty much the same, and it looks like our 10m goal will be achieved. A few visitors passed by and tested the path which was nice.

It's been a great day. We had the odd shower, taking shelter under a holly bush and learning it was known as a protective tree, planted near houses to conduct lightning away from the house! One of the team saw a nuthatch plummet from the top of a tree and fearing it was hurt went in search, but it was fine. We heard robins, blackbirds, blackcaps, great tits, song thrush and a lovely high pitched goldcrest. We saw and learned we had a rare epiphytic fern but couldn't remember it's name. We watched a rabbit. And we ended the day at 3.30pm with another look at the woodpeckers.

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