Oh, and a Happy New Year!
I rode the length of the greenway today to try and plan the next few workdays. To say it was eye-opening would be something of an understatement. I will start at the Potford’s Dam end and run up the greenway and suggest what came to me. If you feel that there is something else that we should be doing, or something that we should not, let me know and we can look at the reasons and make the changes if we need to.
At Potford’s Dam there is a sheltered grassy area on the bridge and for a bit before the path becomes wooded. I think it would be good to cut back the scrub on the outer edges of this area and encourage the grass to grow. This will create a grassy habitat for a wide range of small mammals like mice, shrews and voles. This will then encourage a kestrel or two to visit. If however, the rabbits keep the grass grazed, then maybe we can look at planting Kidney Vetch and trying to establish a colony of Small Blue butterfly. Mike Slater can help us with the finer details.
Moving along the wooded path, the scrub is quite thin and it creates a really nice open wood feel.
It will be nice to maintain this scrub-free feel. There are a few fallen trees that are tangled up in the trunks of others. It needs thinning out and the better ash trees given room to grow. We can encourage woodland plants and flowers to grow on the ground.
Moving on, we get into the areas along the greenway where the scrub is quite thick. It’s important that we maintain this habitat because it has developed over the last 30 odd years. However, there are a few things that we can do to bring back the balance.
There are some fantastic oak trees that are begging to be released from the smaller trees that have shot up and entangled themselves around their lower branches. This then gives us an opportunity to cut away the scrub from under the oaks and create sheltered clearings. The path can be cut back with our new brush-cutter to allow walkers and cyclists free passage.
Moving on and we get to the picnic clearing. I will chase up the picnic benches and hopefully we can get this set up for the early summer, by the latest. We have done quite a lot of work in widening the path, and just need to finish a few bits off.
Moving along the path to the meeting point and the path is quite wide and scrub free due to it being on embankment. This area just needs to be maintained until we are back in cutting and heading towards the new underpass. This area needs the scrub cut back in shallow scallops. There were plenty of grey squirrels rushing about and lots of birds hunting in the undergrowth.
Going through the underpass and the feel of the greenway changes dramatically. It goes into deep cutting and there is a lot of tree cover, however there is little scrub.
It would be a shame to lose this so my feeling is to break out into small glades every now and again, but keep the dense cover above the path between these glades. There is quite a bit of standing water and I wonder if we should direct the path around these and let them flourish. There are also some fallen trees that need to be cut into log piles.
Moving past the area where we did our first proper workday by The Bear, you can see how we have become so much better. The chopping back is sloppy and the piles of brash unsightly. It’s great to see the marked improvement in our more recent workdays. As I travelled towards the bridge at The Bear I found a slow-running stream. This runs right in the middle of the path for about 30 or 40 metres. I spotted a Grey Wagtail hunting for food at this point. The challenge here is to get the path onto higher ground and allow this stream to flourish. It will attract a fantastic amount of differing wildlife to the more drier parts of the greenway.
Moving under the bridge at The Bear and along the path, it remains in deep cutting and is quite wet, but also scrub free. A couple of small clearings will help to bring some diversity to this habitat.
Lastly the path comes out of the cutting and there is a short area of scrub that needs to be cut back before we open out onto the Western Relief Road cycle path (Sustrans Cycle Route 41)
So, quite a bit to do between now and March. But also some very diverse micro-habitats that we can encourage and sustain. What a fantastic place this is going to be. Like I said, eye-opening really understates what we have.
I have four video clips on our facebook page to try and show what I saw. Feel free to take a look, and join the page.
Gather at usual meeting point at the start time, or make your way up or down the path until you find us if you are later.
Sunday 9th: 1:00 to 3:00. Working on the entrance to the greenway at Potford’s Dam. Clearing the fallen trees and thinning out. Create a log pile or two and clear the ground. Clear scrub to outer edges of grassy section.
Monday 10th: 10:30 to 12:30. Working on the area between Potford’s Dam and the picnic clearing. Clear scrub from under established oak trees. Push back and widen the path where needed.
Sunday 16th: 11:00 to 1:00. As above.
Monday 17th: 10:00 to 12:00. Cut back the scrub between the meeting point and the underpass. There is a natural grassy glade that maybe we can lengthen. I spotted a Holly Blue butterfly here last summer so it makes sense to improve this area. There is also a superb view across the fields to the west.
Monday 24th: 10:30 to 12:30. As above.
Sunday 30th: 1:00 to 3:00. Revisit the path between the underpass and The Bear to establish a plan and create a small glade or two. Work out how to get around the wet areas and stream.
Plenty to do and quite a busy schedule. Hopefully we can keep on track and really crack on.
Hope to see you on the workdays burning off some of our Christmas excesses.