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Moseley Bog Friends' Blog 17/06/15

Posted: Friday 26th June 2015 by Joe.P

GrasshopperGrasshopper in the meadow

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.

Today started on a real high with an audit of the new meadow in Pensby Close. Just over a year ago we started to clear this area of brambles, wild raspberries, nettles and took down small trees from the edge. Sheer hard work over most of the spring and early summer 2014, but a great boost to our fitness. Then after a memorable few days in the blistering heat where we kicked out tussocks of grass and carried out extreme scarifying, to expose as much bare earth as we could, we scattered hay from a wildflower meadow in Worcestershire (I think) in the hope of creating our own.

So, how marvellous to discover the many species we saw growing there today; I can remember birdsfoot trefoil, primula, yellow rattle, speedwell, hawkbit, knapweed, ribwort plantain, but there were many more. The middle is dominated by the grass Yorkshire Fog AKA stripy pyjamas due to the red stripes at the base of the stem, and this was absolutely alive with grasshoppers. I haven't seen so many since I was a kid. Soft grass AKA hairy knees due to small hairs on the nodules on the stems, cocks foot, meadow fox tail, and false oat grass were also found. However, my new favourite has to be sweet vernal grass - quite small with delicate yellow-white fronds at the ends of the flower head. We didn't try but the stem is meant to taste of vanilla - next time, maybe. Red, blue and a rather plain looking damsel flies were darting around, and a sort of green flying beetle with red legs - ID in progress.

Soon, however, playtime in the meadow was over and we entered the "Myth of Sisyphus". Read it as a horror story narrator and you'll get the drift. In Greek mythology he was a king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, repeating this action forever. So it is with the new path at Pensby Close.

We don't know our crime but our punishment is to build a path then dig it up then rebuild it - hopefully not for ever! This hand-built path is constructed of plastic grids that lock together on a sheet of cloth, which suppresses weed growth. Then you fill the holes in the grid with soil, which grasses over, so you have a surface suitable for prams and wheelchairs, but which looks more natural. Our first attempt was dug up by yobs and burnt - twice. On our third attempt we backfilled with a sort of fine hardcore which was meant to compact to a hard surface - less natural but sufficient to repel arsonists and do the job. It appears we were sold a pup as it broke down to a fine dust and left shards of pottery and glass. Not sharp but not good. So, Simon Says it must come up! We managed 8m today - raking & sweeping the "softcore" off the grid so we could lift it, banging the excess out of the holes, shovelling it into wheelbarrows to take away, relaying the grid and backfilling with topsoil (provided FOC by the softcore suppliers). Another 2-3 full days work will complete the fourth and hopefully final attempt.

Sadly, the day finished on two lows. Firstly, we were alerted by the office to a mess in the performance area, which had been flagged up by a visitor. When we got there we found there had been a large fire, and debris from that together with remnants of a party had been blown across the performance area and beyond. On inspection we found books and papers from Moseley School. It seems some pupils had had a post exam party there - they even took their own carpet to sit on - bless. We've flagged this up to the school, together with the names found on some of the burnt books. They responded very well to our communications on this and appropriate action will be taken. Their email said:

"We regularly hold assemblies on behaviour outside of school and the effects this has within our community, this will be repeated again to ensure that students understand that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

We agree that restorative justice should take place with these students and will organise with the police that this happens."

The second was when we heard that Alison Wilkes our Reserve Officer had come to the end of her contract, and despite valiant efforts from The Trust further funding had not yet been found. She will be sorely missed, and I'd like to say a huge thank you to her on behalf of all volunteers and the Friends group for her guidance, camaraderie and knowledge transfer over the last year or so. It's been fun working with her and we wish her good luck for the future and she'll still be working at other Trust sites. 

Volunteer days will continue so come and join us - we could do with some extra muscle and brains !

Mary Girvan

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