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Raking in the Rain

Posted: Monday 13th February 2017 by LowerAireValley

Four spotted Chaser - Dr Mark WilliamsFour spotted Chaser - Dr Mark Williams

It’s not every week we get nice jobs and Tuesday’s looked like it was going to be one of those not-so nice days. For a start it was raining, that sort of fine stuff you tend to underestimate but gets you soaked through without you even noticing. We were on the crassula again but this time at Letchmire Pastures where the ponds are looking pretty choked with the stuff since the floods last year. This is not surprising really because if you'd of seen the state of the place during the floods and all the rubbish and litter that had been left floating in what was effectively one large lake, you'd be able to appreciate how feasible it was for the weed to have floated in along with it. Consequently the ponds which are now pretty much back to their normal surface area are suffering from an extraordinary influx of the dreaded alien.

As usual the group got stuck-in and despite the persistent rain the team, Elspeth and Laura all took to the water, modelling the latest fashion in thigh waders. Charlie and I were tasked with constructing the wooden frame which would serve as a coffin for the crassula as it was pulled out onto the bank and forked into the bed, finally to be covered with a taram membrane which would starve it of light and eventually rot it down.

As most of you know this job at the best of times can be a daunting task as crassula is a very efficient coloniser and it only needs one tiny piece of it on the bottom of a ducks webbed foot to settle in the mud and it will start to grow again. However, we have to try and control this plant because it will choke out every other species of pond weed and if left to its own devices could deny our dragonflies places to lay their eggs, forcing them to go somewhere else where the water and pond vegetation hasn't been converted into one whole mass of impenetrable weed.


That’s not to say that some dragonflies may lay eggs amongst crassula beds and this as always in conservation management has to be considered as well as the other pond life that may be residing under the dense vegetation. To ensure we limit the possibility of destroying any immature nymphs of young invertebrates that are living in the weed, we work in small areas only removing manageable amounts on a rotational basis.

I have to admire once again the way our group members got stuck into this work. It was a grey and wet day and the work was bone chilling stood in water sometimes above the knees, but they did it and by the end of the day we had cleared the section of water that Elspeth had selected. I couldn’t help starting a good line of 'banter' and some good 'craick' was passed around enabling all of us to be involved. Sorry to say most of this was an attempted 'wind-up' directed towards our leader Elspeth but she is impervious to it now. I asked her one day if she was offended, but her reply was that living at home with three siblings had hardened her so making my efforts second rate. Just as well eh!

So that’s about it for now, catch us next week at Rothwell Pastures if you want to join in the fun and maybe share some of Shelagh's cake.

Might see you out there,



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