Our project is now well underway with lots of work done and plenty more in progress. The two fields are now stock fenced so that in future when we want to bring in grazing animals for short periods to keep vegetation succession in check then we can. We also now have two new big wooden gates at the entrance to the fields as well as a small pedestrian gate in a corner of the back field so that the local roe deer don’t have to jump the fence to get in!
One of our group, Andrew Mounstephen, is in the process of making a barn owl box plus a kestrel box and lots of tit boxes. We will put these up in January ready for the new nesting season. The main work when we are down in January will be to dig the wetland and strip lots of turf in the front field. The turf will be used to make banks for planting hedgerows onto. We have ordered a wonderful list of native trees and shrubs from Moor Trees. Many of them are of local provenance and the list includes yew, oak, spindle, native privet, alder buckthorn, hazel (for our dormice) and white, grey and goat willow. The total number of plants is 1120 and there are 21 species. The plan is to plant them in early March once the turf in the banks has settled down.
We have also managed to find two sources of deadwood. A local landowner who will be laying his hedges this winter is going to keep the arisings for us and Tom Parsons of the Devon wildlife Trust has put me in touch with another landowner who needs to coppice oak and hazel on his land. We will collect the wood from both places and use it to kick start the deadwood based part of the ecology. There isn’t much deadwood on the land in Devon as it is all used for firewood. Tom has also told us that we can get seed from the Wildlife Trust if we want to try and boost floral diversity by seeding. Before we do that we are going to see what pops up this spring on its own from the existing seedbed once the turf is stripped. If not much appears then we will get some seed in next Autumn.
By this summer our wetland should be in as well as most of the trees and shrubs we want to plant. In addition there will be big areas of bare ground where the turf has come off. We can watch these for new plants coming up from any seed that has survived under the grass that was sowed for the sheep. All this promises lots of excitement and interest as we monitor what new plants and animals start to move in. From there we can adapt the project to these developments and start to let natural processes take over.
Happy Christmas to all our friends.