Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Old Spring Wood: 17-07-2018

"Gird up your loins fellow NCVs - today is the day when battle against the enemy commences. 
We will fight it in the woods. 
We will fight it round the rocks. 
We will fight it amongst the ferns. 
We will claim victory over the ever present - bracken. 

Well - at least until this time next year.

The fightback started at 09:30 BST on the battlefield at Old Spring Wood. Weapons were restricted to hazel poles and grass slashers but there were many casualties. As the small army of 13 NCVs, working under General Liz's instructions, slowly made their way through different areas of the wood they left, in their wake, swathes of bruised and beaten bracken fronds. As the first stage of the battle came to an end it was clear that the NCVs were winning.  The fight will be taken up again in two weeks time.

Firstly any new recruits had to be shown the 
difference between a bracken plant and a fern.

We didn't want any of these shuttlecock look-a-likes 
being bashed into submission!

Meanwhile the more seasoned troops simply got on 
with the job of seeking out the enemy.

Private Dave favoured the grass slasher....

...whilst Corporal Graham preferred the hazel pole.

Up on this top plateau the situation was promising - 
lots of bracken free bilberry and some areas of bare woodland floor. 
Our years of bracken bashing is having a real effect up here.

Over by the perimeter wall things were not quite so good.

However - the invasive weed was soon brought to its knees.

This area of new birch saplings was a bit awkward 
but that, too, fell by coffee time.

Audrey's flapjack helped to sustain the troops. (Thanks Audrey!)
Paul did his 'I want to be alone' act.

After coffee it was down into the bottom of the wood 
where things looked promising at this side.

Less so over this side.

However-  Julia realised that many of the 'bracken plants' were 
actually ferns - so the situation was not as bad as we first thought!

Every so often a circle would form, 
as the troops moved in for the kill.

Rear gunner Anita laughed heartlessly as she 
knocked down the final fronds in this particular stand.

At lunchtime it appeared that everyone wanted to be alone!

By close of play the only real casualty of the NCVs' platoon 
(apart from Tom who developed a bracken bashing blister) 
was Ros E who, having been chased by a wasp all lunchtime, 
was later stung on the rear end. VERY PAINFUL!!

Two interesting finds from today....

A woodland fungus...

...and a wasp's nest up in the nearby shed.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Scarhouse Reservoir: 10-07-2018

Picture Quiz - 
Today's National Awareness Day is..?????

Yes - you have it - National Don't Step on a Bee Day; the special day of the year when people get together to learn about the importance of protecting and caring for bees. 

Now, the NCVs already know a thing or two about how to improve the environment for bees, so no worries there. The only bee related concern they had today was trying to ensure that none of our little stripey friends got covered in gravel or bashed with a mallet. The reason why this could have happened was that the NCVs were helping to finish off The Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership project, up at Scarhouse Reservoir, where some new installed information panels needed surrounding with a layer of 'crusher run'. We'd been ordered to "bring your muscles!" by Liz - which gives you an indication of the level of input required. The photos below show the day unfolding and the job being completed.

The 5 interpretation panels were arranged around 
the inside of this beautifully built stone enclosure.

And very nice the panels were - most informative.

Unfortunately the floor below the panels was a little less beautifully constructed.
The upside was that the work area was next to the car park and the 
gravel was literally on site. All good news for NCVs on a hot day!

First of all something had to be done with the area of large stones - 
a health and safety risk if ever there was one!

This is where the mallet bashing part of the job spec came in.
The large stones had to be reduced in size.

Next the first gravel bag was split open.....

... and its contents were released.

 Once the first lot of gravel was raked out we then needed to 
fetch more large stone to create a base for the second bagful.

"I've been working on a chain gang, all the live long day..."

 Into the stone circle it went...

... where a bit more mallet bashing went on.

Then the second bag could be opened and 
its contents raked around.

HOWEVER - it soon became clear that there simply 
wasn't sufficient gravel to finish the job properly.
The answer? Give up and go home?

Of course not! Instead we all took an early break 
whilst Liz went off with the trailer to fetch another bag of gravel.

The journey was so long that there was plenty of time to make inroads 
into some of the packets of cake that Liz had brought. (Thanks Liz!!)

 There was also time to wander down to the 
dam for a peep over the wall.

The prolonged dry spell has taken its toll 
on the level of the reservoir.

Jan gave his feet a treat and took off his wellies....

... to show off his snazzy socks.

By the time we heard the trailer arriving back 
we'd even fitted in an early lunch!
Now there was no excuse - it was back to work.

 This time barrows were filled,,,,

...and wheeled to the circle....

 .... where the gravel was dumped and raked.

Yes - that should do it.
Very nice.

 No sooner had we loaded up the trailer with some of the spare stone....

 ....and all the tools....

...than two members of the public came by and read the interpretation panels.
They were very happy with the quality of the floor!

Please note that no bees were harmed in the filming of this blog entry.