Thursday 8th & Friday 9th February 2018
So, it was back to Charter Wood for our intrepid band of volunteers to finish planting the extended woodland.
Our Thursday group once again had a crisp cold start and tackled the lower section where one of the pylons had been removed. A good-sized team was out today which was helpful because we had a large area to plant up.
First, we had to clear the scrub and brambles from the area. Michelle, Robert and I took up our brush cutters but two of these machines decided they didn’t want to play. After on-site repairs and coaxing we got all three machines going and tackled the scrub, clearing the area ready for planting. A briefing from Paula on the planting plan got us started placing the first stake and using our measuring poles to get the spacing right for subsequent stakes.
We had a mixture of trees which were planted in groups to provide variety around the area. Working together we quickly got into the old routine of staking, digging, planting and protecting. Breaks for tea and lunch came and went and eventually we had achieved what we set out to do and completed planting up the area.
There is always something new to look at and today our student Luke spotted a rare fungus – Cobalt Crust (Terana caerulea), on a dead branch. Tim, who is a bit of an enthusiast when it comes to fungi, got a little bit excited since it was his first ever sighting of this. Fortunately, Robert is always on hand to capture the find on his camera. It was also an opportunity to catch up with Michelle and discuss what other things we might include on the Fringe website. A gallery of all our nature finds would seem a viable candidate.
Our Friday group returned to finish off where they worked the previous week. And of course, it was again wet and cold, and we had the long trek up the muddy hill to the top of the site by the big pylon. Matt H was in charge with Liz, Stephen, Robert, student Rebecca and me in support. Fewer volunteers out today but there was just enough to carry all the gear up to the site.
The task was to complete the planting of the top area by infilling around the clear-felled section. Robert knocked back more of the bramble with the brush cutter while the rest of us placed stakes and planted trees. The rain eased off, but the ground was very wet and muddy and slippery. Because we were infilling it took a little longer to find a suitable spot and then decide what should be planted based on what was growing nearby. There was a lot of ash scrub and with signs of Ash dieback we planted mostly hazel and birch and used up the rest of the holly plants. We finished at lunchtime, loaded up and made our way back to the truck.
Our boss, Matt D, had estimated that we would need seven work days to complete the planting, but we have finished this in four and a half days. So, it is a big pat on the back for our volunteers who have worked tirelessly through all weathers to complete this task.