Our work party on the first Sunday of the month was very successful despite the heavy mist in the earlier part of the morning. By coffee break we were able to see parts of the meadow from the heath through the mist. There were some wonderful spiders webs seen on the gorse and other bushes. I also saw some very good examples of the red (with white spots) Fly Agaric mushrooms at the edge of the heath, these were about the size of tea plates. Two of our volunteers managed to rake up most of the remaining mown grass from the meadow. The grass piles are quite large at the moment but these will start to rot down, heating up to provide central heating for anything which hibernates there (like grass snakes or mice or insects). We were able to use the petrol brushcutter to clear most of the remaining bracken and small birch scrub from the top of the Heath area. This was burnt straight away along with the pile of old holly cuttings so as to leave the Heath clear of debris. One of our young volunteers ably assisted in lighting the bonfire and feeding it (we always have suitable jobs for anyone interested in a bit of outdoor activity).
We also had a small work party on Wednesday (11th November) in Villa Wood. Andy used the brushcutter to clear more of the path beside the brook towards the Sunnymead lane end, this will help it to dry out a bit by letting the light down to the ground. The other three of us tackled the clearing up of the damaged trees from the damaged ‘bluebell’ area. The damaged tree stumps have been cut to a proper ‘coppiced’ level from which they will grow next year. We untangled, sawed to a moveable size and then lifted the branches hacked by the ‘diggers’ onto two nearby log piles. We noticed as we were doing this that already some ladybirds were getting ready to hibernate in the existing log pile which we made a few weeks ago. This should be the last clear up of the area now, we will have to wait until the spring to see how many of the wild flowers regrow. Even today we found some bluebell bulbs still on the surface which we pushed back into the soil to grow.
A nice surprise today was that we found a large frog in this same area, this is the first frog that I have seen on site in the five years or so that I have been involved with Cockaynes Reserve. We are always pleased when we are able to confirm that creatures or plants are actually present but may not have been spotted previously or have been absent for some reason. I’ve added some photos of the ‘cleaned’ area and the frog for interest.
We are still uploading photos to our web site (http://cockaynes.org.uk/)if anyone has any that are suitable and are willing to let us display them.
Roger Robson (Warden).