On Saturday October 17th the Steering group continued clearing willow from the pond in preparation for its restoration in November. It was much better weather this time and we were able to finish the work so that all is now ready. When the sugar beet in the adjoining field has been harvested the digger will be able to reach the pond and the restoration can take place. We were all surprised to see how big the pond is now that the edges are clear. Some of the cleared willow had to be dragged across the pond with a rope but our tug-of-war team managed it very well!
The steering group turned out in pouring rain on Saturday 3rd October to start work on the pond in Malster’s Little Field. In recent years the pond has been slowly reverting back to dry land as Reedmace and Goat Willow took over. We are removing some of this so that the thick layer of sediment can be cleared by machinery. Then we hope that the water plants and creatures will return. Plant seeds can lay dormant in the silt for many years just waiting for an opportunity to flourish again so we should see results quite quickly.
While Alan worked on the bigger willows with our new electric chainsaw (much quieter than the petrol sort!) the rest of us dragged out the cut branches, sorting out the logs to make habitat piles for beetles and other insects.
On Saturday March 21st a small group of us planted willow rods in two of the wetter areas of Malster’s Little Field. Osiers were planted in the very wet patch in the south east corner, and basket making willows in the wet corner near to the gateway between Malster’s and Grove Piece. These will provide some useful resources as well as demonstrating how coppicing works but on a much shorter timescale than most other coppiced trees. Also two long willow rods were planted in the new hedge, these will be managed as pollards so the tops will be cut off shortly to encourage a number of branches to develop at the top.
Alan had been making bird boxes and erected these in hedgerow trees. He also set out some reptile sheets, it will be interesting to see what we find under those.
The work party on last Saturday (February 22nd) saw more trees planted in Malster’s Little Field. Twenty-seven Sweet Chestnuts are now going in an area at the eastern end of the field. in future these will be coppiced every twelve years or so to provide timber and firewood. Sweet Chestnut coppice is a favourite habitat of Nightingales so here’s hoping!
We also planted the two Wild Service trees donated by Heather Philips, one near the footbridge at the entrance to Malster’s and the other in Grove Piece between the seat and the pond.
Ken and Joan from Norfolk visited us. They are are in the process of setting up a group to plant woodland in Filby, just north of Great Yarmouth. Ken is an expert in the group of micro moths whose caterpillars feed by tunnelling in leaves, the leaf-miners. We are hoping that he will return in the autumn to identify some of those that live in our woods.
While this was going on at Grove Piece and Malster’s Geraldine and Liz were looking after our display at the “Our Shared Earth “ display at Halesworth library and answering lots of questions from many interested visitors.
It’s amazing how much nine people can do in a couple of hours. At our first work party in Malster’s Little Field we got busy cutting, planting and constructing. We planted over 60 hazels for coppicing and 17 crab apples (I’ve just found a recipe for rosehip and crab apple jelly). I’m sure the birds will take their share of the fruit harvest too. We cut a path from the footpath through Malsters to Grove Piece to encourage people to keep to a route so that wildlife is less disturbed. In time we may well extend the pathways. The cut path now links with the footpath by a bridge we put in place over the ditch. A hot drink from the Kelly kettle, chocolate cake and flapjack were all very welcome at the end of this activity. Thank you to all who helped today and to John Hill for delivering the matches that we forgot to take. Marie