In the winter, when the ospreys have all gone, work at Rutland Water is not over for our team of osprey monitoring volunteers. Winter is the time of year that practical work on the nature reserve begins in earnest, and there is plenty to do! We have a dedicated team of osprey volunteers who convene at Lyndon every Monday throughout the winter months to carry out practical habitat conservation tasks. This work party team works hard to ensure that the Lyndon reserve is kept in a fantastic condition, and is ready for a new season next year, and all the visitors and breeding species that spring brings!
The first work party of winter 2016 was last Monday, and the second was yesterday. We had a team of around 15-20 working in two different groups. Task one was to clear the marginal vegetation from the edges of the wildflower meadow, which had recently been mown, and to coppice the stand of willow on the left of the meadow, in order to open up the view of the reservoir. This willow comes in very handy around the reserve, and is used for a number of other tasks such as willow weaving around benches, and creating willow fences.
The other job that we have been working on for the past two Mondays is a bigger project that is likely to last several more weeks. We have been clearing an area of willow to the right-hand-side of Teal hide. This patch of willow had become very tightly packed and the ground was almost completely shaded, hence the ground layer was mainly a tangle of brambles. What we aim to do is take down the larger willow trees and open the area up to allow more light to penetrate. Gradually the willow will begin to grow back, and the area will become scrubby and shrubby, which is great habitat for a number of breeding species.
The cut material is being used to create a dead hedge along the track to the hide. Stakes are made out of the thicker, straighter bits of willow and driven into the ground at regular intervals. Then the cut branches and brash are packed into the middle of the stakes, creating a hedge. This makes a much neater edge to the track, and is an excellent use for the material being felled.
As always we were all treated to excellent soups at lunchtime – week one from Paul Stammers and week two from Becky Corby. Thank you both very much, and thanks also to volunteer Jan Warren for the wonderful cakes she always brings!
Thank you to volunteer Margaret Stamp for the following photographs of the work!