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Moseley Bog Friends' Blog 04/11/15

Posted: Friday 6th November 2015 by Joe.P

Volunteers at Moseley BogWorking round the meadows

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 forecast promised a wet cold day. As we huddled around in the car park waiting for everyone to arrive, and the tools to be prepared, there was talk of how many layers were optimum, had vests put in an appearance yet, and whether to put on or simply take waterproof gear with us as a downpour was inevitable. By the time we got to our work place, the first of those many layers was coming off, and a misty pale yellow sun was struggling out. It turned into a beautiful warm day.

We continued our scalloping today, starting in the small woodland at the far end of the second meadow, and continuing along the path as far as the wild raspberry thicket. Until you start on this sort of task you just don't realise how overgrown things are, and when you see your results in a small area, you look around and see just how much more there is to do.

We chose which part we wanted to tackle and the appropriate tool; wild raspberry thicket - slasher, very appropriate for Halloween week; hazel & lime coppicing - saw; hazel processing - billhook; blackthorn - loppers; Gelder rose - loppers and saw. 

Coppicing involves cutting a tree or a stool of many trunks down to ground level. It's a traditional method for harvesting wood, but also has the effect of keeping the tree in a perpetual juvenile state, so prolonging its life. In fact, most of the stuff we cut back should send up new shoots in the spring, so ongoing management will be required.

As we finish an area, the light from the strengthening sun floods in. This will allow new flowers and plants to flourish, which in turn will attract more bees and butterflies, and then nesting birds as the thicket thickens again. We also intend to plant some primroses and other woodland flowers in the new spaces, from our stock at Ecopark, giving a lovely gradation from path to vegetation to woodland.

On the day, we use the processed material to build dead hedges, which as well as protecting the enclosed areas from rampaging humans and dogs while the new undergrowth gets established, provide a fabulous habitat for invertebrates, amphibians, small mammals and birds. Birds will also enjoy flying down the newly created corridors and as a complete bonus, cutting the vegetation back from the paths makes them feel safer for walkers, as you have an increased field of vision, and it will help the paths drain better. All these benefits from a bit of (extreme) pruning!

For some of the work no tools are required. A lot of the Gelder rose was completely dead at the bottom, and once any green shoots and branches tangled from the trees behind had been cut, the rest could be despatched by jumping on the stool with safety boots; a method that allowed us to avoid the frustration of a job not quite finished at the end of another rewarding day.

We always welcome new volunteers, so please do join us next week if you can.

Mary Girvan
 

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