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Moseley Bog Friends' Blog 31/07/15

Posted: Friday 31st July 2015 by Joe.P

southern marsh orchid at Moseley Bogsouthern marsh orchid

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.

I haven't been able to volunteer for 3 weeks, and I can't tell you how much I've missed it. It started me thinking about why I enjoy it so much.

Could it be the wonderful feeling of being out of doors, whatever the weather, rather than stuck in an office all day? Or is it the assault on your senses the bird song, the fresh smells after the rain, the nettle stings, seeing plants growing in front of your eyes in the spring, the lengthening vistas in winter and the taste of bitter frosty air? Maybe it's that I'm an awful lot fitter than when I started and that becomes addictive. It's certainly the cameraderie; at the end of a pretty stressful day recently I got some wonderful photos from that week's volunteer day - it made me smile.

The absolute bonus is you learn so much. So here's a taster of what I've learned in my first 17 months as a volunteer in Moseley Bog :-

● You fell a tree with a bow saw using a bird's mouth cut - because that's what it looks like, an open one. The cut controls the fall.
● If you see a writhing mass of black wriggles from tiny specks to well caterpillar size on nettles, it's a caterpillar nest, which then turn into peacock butterflies
● Yellow rattle wildflower is a grass parasite, great for wildflower meadows and it rattles when it's seeds are ready to spread
● You can make champagne from elderflower
● You can eat nettles without stinging your mouth
● When you see an orchid down the bog you can't tell anyone, but you can get very excited
● A female orange tip butterfly does not have orange wing tips, she's all white
● Dead hedges are very alive with bugs hedgehogs and wrens
● You can make a live hedge by cutting but not severing a small tree then laying it down it will continue to grow
● Baby bluebells look like grass
● Visitors appreciate the paths you build, and it's lovely when they tell you so
● Brambles always grow back
● Birch are the first to colonise a woodland, growing quickly to create a nice open canopy, encouraging woodland flowers to grow beneath, and the next wave of trees
● Sycamore with their large leaves take too much moisture out of the bog, and provide too dense a canopy for flowers - we take them out
● By measuring it's girth the old oak tree is estimated to be over 250 years old
● Medieval people had saunas in the bog, and Victorians had glass houses
● You can watch woodpeckers flying in and out of the nest for quite a long time without getting bored

Until you've experienced the work that goes into managing a nature reserve, you assume it's natural, it just happens, but it doesn't. If you can give any time at all, come and try an hour or more on a volunteer day. It's not scary or cliquey or full of wildlife experts. It doesn't have to be very physical hard work, though it can be if you're able. The work can be suited to all capabilites. If you do give it a try, I can promise you you'll go home feeling good.

Mary Girvan

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