Monday, 23 June 2014

The lead up to summer at Hill Court Farm

April and May have been busy, but very productive months for the Hill Court Farm Volunteer Work Party.

In April we spent a day at the main viewing point on the reserve, which is close to the scrape.  Our task was to collect willow on site and weave a screen to remove visitors from the birds eye line and prevent them ‘going up’.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable day as we had a brilliant view of the birds on the water as we worked.  We spotted coots, Canadian geese, mute swans, lapwing, little egrets and shelduck among others and at one point a skylark flew directly above our heads.   I’m pleased to say our screen does seem to be doing its job and we can look forward to completing the other side of the viewing point at a later date.

In May we returned to a woodland pond we have been busy creating over the period of two or three years now.  When we began the task the wooded area was pretty much just a smelly, boggy, tangled mess and it took quite some time just to clear a way in and decide where best to locate our pond.  By September 2013 we had managed to dig the pond out and we just had to hope that we had chosen the right spot and that it would fill with water.  Returning to it, we weren't quite sure what to expect as the wood had completely flooded in all the rain earlier in the year, but we were absolutely delighted by what we found.  Our pond was filled nicely with water and already it was teeming with life.  We spotted water beetles & smaller water fleas whirling about in the water, plus skaters skimming around on top.  In the earth mound next to the pond we found a female smooth newt.  We also spotted larvae in the water, and are hopeful that the pond will soon attract damselflies and dragonflies.

Our task for the day was to expand the pond and clear a wildlife corridor between it and a close by water channel.   Digging out the new pond was hard going, but we now have a smaller satellite pond that we’ll join up to the bigger one once it has filled and naturalised a little.  We also used some dead wood we had to clear away to create a log pile which we hope will provide a nice habitat for hibernating amphibians.

As we worked we were serenaded by a cuckoo and all around the yellow flags were flowering.  All in all it was a beautiful setting for a day’s work.

If all this sounds like something you’d like to get involved in, we are always happy to welcome new volunteers to the team.  We meet once a month on the last Saturday of each month (except December).  Whether you could spare just one Saturday every few months or would like to become a more regular volunteer, we would be delighted to have you along.  You don’t need any particular wildlife knowledge and tools for each task are provided.  For more information contact Naomi on or 01905 754919.

June’s work party will be this Saturday 28 June and we plan to do some seed collecting and spreading to benefit the meadows on the reserve, which in turn will benefit our pollinators.

Sara, Hill Court Farm

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