Tuesday, 21 January 2014

@WiltsWildlife - Winter Scrub Clearance in Morgan's Hill Quarry

This winter has, so far, been relatively mild, but there is still an awful lot of work to do up on the reserve. Because of the difficulty in getting cattle there has been substantial under-grazing over the last few years. Thankfully this autumn saw 30 Aberdeen Angus cattle on the reserve which has gone some way to redressing the balance. We are not where we want to be just yet, but there has been an improvement. Therefore any scrub clearance work carried out this winter will help matters even further.

The main area that I want to concentrate on this year is the quarry area in the east compartment. This is a very species rich area that is under threat from not only under-grazing but also ash sapling growth from Horsecombe Bottom wood.

In this seemingly unending task of removing ash saplings, clearing bramble, and cutting down some of the hawthorn, I have been helped by the Wellbeing group. They carried out one task day earlier on in the autumn and are due to carry out another task day in February. I am very grateful for the help, without them I am working pretty much single-handed.

I have broken down the compartment into smaller sub-sections and I'm now working through each section, dealing with one, then moving on to another. There is a lot of work to do and I'm unsure if I will get it all done this winter. If that happens then I will move everything on to next winter, along with most of the work that needs doing in the west compartment.

One of the tasks to be done involves clearing any unwanted material from the chalk scrape that was created last winter.

That's all for now, but I leave you with a photo of some of the Trust's Herwick sheep that have just been moved onto the reserve to graze for the rest of the winter.

Herdwick sheep in the Barrow Field, Baltic Farm