Sunday, 3 April 2016

A last bash

Wednesday 30th March 2016

Grey Wagtail on car aerial in car park

It being the Easter holidays, Gibside Rangers were doing their bit to involve visiting children in the planting of heather on a sandy bank near the top of the Hollow Walk. We left them to it and went off to have a last bash at clearing rhododendron from the hillside behind. A last bash, that is, until late autumn when we can renew the onslaught. For the time being though, we shall welcome the change of season by leaving nature in peace for its annual renewal.
Planted Heather

At times it seemed we were getting nowhere but, by the end of the day it was quite pleasing to survey our achievements. For a good stretch on this wooded hillside we had cleared the dense canopy of alien rhododendron, opening up stark, bare ground to daylight. Before too long we hope to see native plants moving in, creating ground cover and an understorey of shrubs. In turn, these will provide habitat and food for a variety of creatures. More immediately, birch, beech and rowan stand free and are a delight to see.

Work continues

Native trees are now visible

Cleared area

There is much more work to be done here to clear the remaining rhododendron, and to control the area we have cut to prevent recolonization. Drastic measures may be necessary.

Naturally enough, a paucity of fauna is a feature of such alien, toxic vegetation, though tracks suggest that badger and roe deer pass this way. And at least one tick. Unknowingly, I took that home with me, comfortably settled in just above my wrist. It’s squished now.

The offending tick before being squished

Steve Wootten & Phil Coyne