Winter! My favourite season. I look forward to those frosty starts with the whistling of the Redwing, the chattering of the Fieldfare and the winter wildfowl sounds. I also enjoy how you can sleep in and yet still get out for dawn to go bird watching…
Anyway, whilst I could write a whole blog post about how I walk on cloud nine when snow begins to settle, it’s probably best I should tell you what we’ve been up to… Let’s make this a reserve relevant post and not merely a monologue!
Where do I start? Winter is when a great deal of the habitat management work takes place on the reserve. We’ve covered a great deal from woodland management, scrub clearance, hedgelaying and even hide building. Yes, let’s start with hide building.
Before starting at Rutland Water, we had no carpentry experience but, thanks to the brilliant volunteers, we were quickly shown our way around the woodworking world whilst replacing Lapwing hide. Lapwing hide overlooks the main water and we were involved in nearly all aspects of its construction from building the floors and hide flaps, cladding the walls and fitting the roof – something we never thought we’d be doing this time last year! Now it’s completed, it is a great sense of achievement to be birding from it. If you’ve got some spare time and want to visit the best hide on the reserve (in our opinion, anyway), it’s well worth a walk down to Lapwing hide!
One of the highlights of the winter work for us trainees was working towards obtaining our chainsaw certificate. We enjoyed this very much…
On the first day, we were taught how to maintain the saws and given an introduction to cross cutting logs before we progressed to tree felling for the following three days – the best bit in my opinion… We then had a few days of practicing before our assessment and I’m proud to report that we all passed! With our tickets in hand, we were quickly put into action with the ongoing woodland and scrub management work at Cherry Wood, Lax Hill and the Lyndon reserve with the Osprey volunteers.
Speaking of woodland work, Matt likes chopping down trees it seems… For conservation reasons, naturally!
Coppicing has been carried out as part of our woodland work rotation in Hambleton and Cherry Wood. This creates variation in the structure of the woodland creating suitable areas for different plant species and for Nightingale to breed, for example.
Hambleton is primarily a Hazel coppice coup where we harvested hazel stakes for hedgelaying which you’ll have seen around the reserve no doubt. As trainees, we were booked onto a weekend hedgelaying masterclass with John Shone where we learned the art of thinning out, laying and staking and binding the hedge. We were pretty happy with the results of the weekend and have since started laying a hedge in the Egleton meadows – remember to take a look when you’re on the reserve!
That’s a very brief look at what we as trainees have been up to over the winter – we could have written a whole blog post on each task!
As a final piece of news, our fellow trainee Alex has moved onto pastures new to work with the Environment Agency. We wish her all the best and hope to see her about some time soon. That just leaves two trainees now – “then there were two”.
As always, thank you to everyone who has helped us out throughout the year so far!
Till next time, TROs out!