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Moseley Bog Friends' Blog 13/01/2016

Posted: Monday 18th January 2016 by Joe.P

Moseley Bog volunteers with Amey staffMoseley Bog & Joy's Wood

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.

Finally it feels like winter. It's a beautiful crisp morning. There's a hoar frost on the ground and in the air, just enough to catch your breath. There's a hazy yellow presence in the sky, ill-defined edges, brighter towards the centre, where it looks like it's bubbling.

I got there early to put some tree guards on saplings that are being nibbled by rabbits or squirrels, but spent half of my extra 30 mins watching a great spotted woodpecker drumming on a tree, enjoying the twin pleasures of finding him then watching him - 8-12 rapid beats every few seconds. I also met a chap who wanted to know if we would challenge the local government boundary changes to get Moseley Bog back into Moseley, and whether we'd thought of having a UC3A group to help with conservation. Something to follow up on.

Tree guards fitted, I got back to the car park just as three large yellow clad men strolled confidently in from the other end. Whistle the theme tune from "The good the bad and the ugly" and you'll get the picture. They had on white hats so must be goodies. These were the men from Amey, come to help us for their annual corporate volunteer day, and very welcome they were.

We didn't yet have permission to fix the revetement around the burnt mound, which is needed as the bronze age mound is a scheduled ancient monument, protected by the Secretary of State. So more coppicing is the order of the day. Despite the cold snap the bog is still very boggy, so again we approached through the trees.

Already small birds were using last week's dead hedge - sparrow, robin. We all had a safety talk, then the regular volunteers made a start on one side of the area while Paul gave the Yellow Men an induction into coppicing and tree felling. After this there was no holding them back as they ripped through their side with saws, axes and billhooks, shouting "timber!", like yellow whirling dervishes. Not the gentle felling for them. If a tree didn't fall quickly enough a yellow peril swung on it or climbed it's neighbour to give it a helpful boot. They were rapidly surrounded by a pile of fallen trunks laying higgledy piggledy over each other like pick-up sticks. These were processed with the same rapid fire technique employed for felling. Meanwhile, us regulars felled in a slower motion and tidied into the dead hedge as we went - no less effective just different.

It just goes to show there is more than one way to coppice a wood. "It's not a competition, but this is definitely the biggest tree" shouted a yellow man with glee. He was right. However, our smallest volunteer took on perhaps the biggest challenge by tackling a massive guelder rose on her own - respect! By the end of the day, we'd cleared a large area between us, and built what could be the largest dead hedge in the world. A proper corral.

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