30 Days Wild: A blog by Community Engagement Officer Holly Hucknall

We are nearly at the end of 30 Days Wild now – what kind of wild activities have you been getting up to? 

Sunday 24th June was the day of our June Wild Skills meeting. Wild Skills is a volunteer group for 13-18 year olds. We meet once a month and complete all sorts of tasks around the nature reserve, such as cutting and raking meadows, building bird boxes and constructing bird watching screens. This session our task was to remove a section of fencing that ran from Fieldfare hide to Gadwall hide, opening up the woodland habitat beyond it. 

Some of our Wild Skills members

On the walk to the site at 9am the sun was already high in the sky – it was set to be a very warm day. Arriving at Fieldfare hide, the area was alive with insects. Some were a joy to see – butterflies and bumblebees. Others were less welcome by the Wild Skills group – mosquitoes and red ants! Nonetheless, it was great to see so much life in one place, a contrast to the freshly mown verges seen beyond the nature reserve boundaries.

We were taking down some fencing between Fieldfare and Gadwall hide

We unloaded all the equipment we’d need to remove the fence. Fencing pliers, hammers, spades, iron bars, bolt cutters – all essential for the task ahead! The fence had been installed some time ago, and since then plenty of vegetation had grown up around it. The nettles and thistles, whilst uncomfortable at times, would be easy to work around. The hawthorn, bramble and blackthorn created more of a challenge! Armed with loppers and bow saws, the group carefully removed choice branches, being careful to leave the shrubs as undisturbed as possible and always checking for signs of breeding birds. 

Some essential tools – fencing pliers and a hammer

The team removed the fence staples (which were keeping the fencing attached to the posts), carefully removed the barbed wire that ran across the top of the fence, and finally removed the posts, often digging them out of the dry ground – all very hard work! Altogether we managed to remove about 100m of fencing, and finished the session off with some lovely homemade cake at the visitor centre – excellent work Wild Skills! 

Both our Wild Skills groups are currently fully subscribed, but if you’d like to join our waiting list please email community@rutlandwater.org.uk.