It’s the small things

It’s the small things

It’s almost six months since the Rutland Water Nature Reserve team moved into our brand new Volunteer Training Centre (VTC). As I write, I am sat in the peaceful upstairs meeting space with the sunshine streaming in and only the sounds of the ducks and geese on Lagoon 4 to distract me. As I reflect on how things have changed it’s hard to imagine now how we got by without the simple luxuries afforded to us these days. It wasn’t sunny this morning, in fact it was miserable. It was a misty start to the day with very heavy rain and as I drove in to work I wondered how many volunteers we would brave the weather. This time last year a morning like this one could have forced us to cancel the day’s work party, but now there’s no need. As I get out of my car I don’t even pull my hood over my head as I know I’ll soon be stepping into the warm shelter of the VTC. It doesn’t surprise me to see the usual number of cars in the car park. On entering the building I look to my left towards the work shop to see our Reserve Officers are already sorting out tasks for the day. I smile at the sight of the garage and tool store – a place for everything, everything in its place; it couldn’t be more different to the tumble-down workshop of days gone by. The mess room looks inviting, the kettle’s on and there’s room for all to relax out of the inclement weather whilst jobs are assigned...
Tales from the Trainees

Tales from the Trainees

With autumn coming to an end our attention has now moved on to woodland management. Winter proves the ideal season for this as many of the trees are dormant and there is less disruption for breeding wildlife. Managing the woodlands provides a diverse habitat by promoting the growth of ground flora, creating a layered effect which benefits a wider range of species. How are we managing our woodlands? A dense canopy reduces light penetration and limits the growth of understory vegetation. The combination of coppicing (cutting tree limbs close to the ground) and pollarding (cutting limbs higher up) not only gives a multi-layered structure to the woodland, it also enhances natural regeneration by keeping the tree young. These are traditional techniques which many species have come to rely on, such as the beautiful bluebell and the melodious nightingale. Thinning the trees increases the light levels to the woodland floor, giving plants a chance to flourish. So what do we do with all the material we cut down? Where possible it is reused in a variety of ways. Logs are stacked into piles which provide an ideal habitat for invertebrates, small mammals and amphibians.  Longer branches can be used to create a dead-hedge, or the straighter ones can be cut for stakes and binders for hedge-laying. A dead-hedge can be built around the worked area, not only creating a ‘wildlife corridor’ and nesting habitat, but also acting as a barrier against rabbits, hares and deer which graze on the plant regeneration. When coppicing willow trees near Fieldfare Hide a different approach was taken. Some trees were laid on the shoreline...

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