Winter work party update

Trevor Coughlan gives us the latest from the Work Parties at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve

Visitors may have noticed that over the last few months, there has been some rain! However, I am pleased to report the wet weather has not deterred our volunteers, in the fact the number of work party volunteers over the last three months has been higher than in the same period last season.

We have continued our work improving the habitat for nightingales and other summer migrants, particularly in East Scrub. We have also undertaken maintenance on the exclosures, including vegetation clearance, fencing repairs and replacement of rotten fence posts. At least the wet weather means that the ground has been soft which made bashing in posts easier! We have now finished our work in this area for this winter although further work will be undertaken in future years in accordance with the Reserve’s Management Plan.

The Management Plan details the work to be undertaken on the existing Reserve and the extension to ensure the Reserve is maintained and improved for both visitors and wildlife. The Friends liaise closely with the Rangers to ensure our work parties are coordinated with the work undertaken by the midweek work parties. Senior Ranger Matt is a member of the Friends’ Conservation Management Team which meets monthly to review progress and ensure the Plan’s objectives are achieved.

Other work undertaken by the Friends’ work parties during the winter has been further willow clearance in the Hayling Reedbed, vegetation clearance in the exclosures to encourage the growth of orchids and adders tongue fern, clearance of the bank of Southoe Brook near the yard and further
habitat improvement in the Sanctuary. We now hope that the nightingales will return in the Spring to occupy the desirable new residences we have prepared for them.

Are you interested in volunteering with one our Work Parties? Find out more here.

Volunteers uplifted by ‘The Gloomy Trees’

Janet Prior reports on a new old find for the reserve…

If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise. If you go down to the woods today you’ll never believe your eyes!  This was the situation for the mid-week volunteers who ventured into the woods to erect protective stock fencing in the east scrub area of the nature reserve during January.  

Their big surprise was to find two very old and gloomy looking Apple Trees.  The age of the trees is currently uncertain but the cankers and gnarly bark suggest that they have been slowly drifting into old age, unseen for many years. 

Although the trees were nick-named ‘The Gloomy Trees’, the effect on the volunteers was far from gloomy.  Everyone looked on them with amazement and felt uplifted having discovered these awesome veterans. 

One of the trees looks quite unhealthy as it has shed its lower limbs.  However, this phenomenon, known as ‘Summer branch drop’, and is associated with weather patterns is what trees do naturally in order to prolong their life.  Hopefully it’s not too late for this tree and we can look after and enjoy them both for many more years. 

Photos of The Gloomy Trees kindly provided by Matt Hall