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A Great Birthday Brash

Posted: Wednesday 3rd May 2017 by LowerAireValley

A very Happy Birthday to our dedicated and experienced volunteer Pete! With extra task days on Fridays it’s going to be even harder to keep up with the blog but I shall do my best for you, our avid readers!

Last Friday the Lower Aire Valley volunteers finished off fencing Coronation Meadow, which is now all secure for the introduction of cattle. Pete was treated to a go on his favourite machine the brushcutter to cut down the thistle and Elspeth donned the space suit and a new gadget for spraying the unwanted thistle and the dangerous Giant Hogweed. If exposed to the skin the Hogwed juices react with sunlight to give you a very nasty burn, so when visiting Water Haigh Woodland Park please beware! In the afternoon I was able to ‘brush up’ on my brushcutting skills and revisited my favourite task of raking up the arisings. With a slightly later finish than usual we all slept well that night! We have some ongoing project work at Townclose Hills that will keep us busy for the next several weeks. The project is to improve the site for the public by adding new benches, way-markers, interpretation boards and possibly even some steps if the badgers will allow it! Most of the areas for steps appear to have badger sets but it is currently unknown whether they are active and we are therefore awaiting a badger specialist.

This Tuesday we continued with the brash blocks with many laughs and lots of character building tasks. The day started off with a bit of a downer as Shelagh hadn’t arrived who normally brings cake, and she had promised Pete a special Birthday cake. However on route to the site she phoned up apologising that she was late. With a quick hello the group got straight down to the important question ‘Did you bring the cake?!’ at which Shelagh produced the humungous Birthday cake pictured above with the very happy birthday boy! But our troubles were far from over… the most challenging task we have come across occurred during tea and cake break. After serenading Pete a very Happy Birthday aloud and in sign language we discovered that we did not have a knife to cut the cake. As we are all bright sparks we quickly assessed our options: use of hands, sticks, silky saws or an axe. The axe seemed the most sensible size and shape and was sterilised and cut expertly as pictured! For me the piece was too much and saved half for later but a passing dog got at it during the next working hour and a half and I didn’t fancy it after that.


Just to clarify we don’t spend every Tuesday eating cake, we work very hard! Climbing up steep hills, fighting with brash to go neatly into a dead hedge, making stakes (very labour intensive task! Big well done to Chris, Charles and Pete our chief stake makers) and hammering them in. A new system was needed for the last hedge line as we were dragging brash all the way round and up a hill and decided it would be easier to take it straight up a steeper hill and began a chain system to save our legs. We all ground to a half at 3pm and called it a day, very proud of our achievements even if it just looked like moving brash around for no reason! Our efforts should keep people on safer paths, promote ground flora, prevent erosion and improve biodiversity in the woodland.






That’s all for this weeks updates, we always welcome new volunteers so if you’re looking for a way to keep fit, gain conservation experience or just to meet some amazing people come on down! Next week we are back at Townclose Hills, drop me an e-mail if you’re coming so we know to wait for you!

Laura (Nature Reserves Trainee)

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