The beast from the east
Our year on the land started with the ‘Beast from the East.’ It arrived just in time for the pond digging project – and as we were about to build our new dipping deck. We quickly found ourselves wading chest deep in icy cold water. At one point the digger was partially submerged while banging posts into the deep clay and silt. To their credit, the team soldiered on and got the job done.
The new pond is now coming to life, with tadpole swarms, dragon fly nymphs, diving beetles and water scorpions making it their home. In fact, all the natural ecosystems onsite are flourishing. We’ve discovered a family of dormice nesting so we’ll be looking for volunteers to help improve their habitat in 2019. We’ve also spotted other rare species, including kingfishers, owls, herons and kestrels. There’s a new female fox living here now and the badger families are up to their usual mischief in the compost.
One big challenge for the future is the presence of ash dieback. We’ve confirmed that it’s affecting some of our trees, young and old. Thankfully we’re going to be part of the battle for a solution. We’re about to sign a contract with Coventry University to run a three-year research project, looking into the positive effects of biochar in helping trees develop resistance to the disease.
We’ll be looking for volunteers in 2019 to help out with various projects onsite:
- creating future feeding sites and building housing boxes for the dormice
- woodland management to help ensure our oak trees can grow to be veterans and continue to host bats and moths
- working on our water and wetland habitats around the new pond, lake and clay pit.
Volunteering dates are January 11 and 26, February 8 and 23, March 8, July 12, August 9, September 6, October 11, November 8 and December 6. Contact us if you want know more about any of these projects or if you’re interested in helping out. We may add further dates next year but we’ll keep you updated on these.
Have a great Christmas and we hope to see you in the New Year.