Reflections on, and Plans for, work in the reserve

Reflections on some of what’s been done this year:

Major improvements to the paths, especially across the Meadow and to the steps. We get a lot of appreciation from walkers and it’s encouraging how many people, young and old, are now able to experience the place.

The Board Walk – so many people go and sit on the benches and relax, and very few are anti-social. It has been a big success.

The Community Orchard – continues to develop, botanically. I cannot see any reason to intervene in natural processes other than to tame the vegetation now and then. Each year different plants dominate and this year it is False Melilot. The newly established fruit trees are doing well and still look as though they are too far apart, which is good because we can be sure that they have not been planted too close together.

Below the Travis Perkins bridge: is it too soon to conclude that the general up-grading of the area is reducing the attractiveness of the area below the bridge for those of an anti-social nature?

PBNR projects planned 2015/2016

Up-grade the path from the far steps down from the Meadow, to the ponds. The plan is to get gravel delivered (probably 10+ tons at maybe £60/ton) and to hire a tracked barrow to move it. There are also some bits between the 2 bridges that would benefit from some gravel and we may be able to do this at the same time. We may start it on the September work party day. Also finish improvements to the steps.

Raise the water level in the pond by a couple of inches by altering the level of the spillway. We had thought to do this during the summer when water levels were low, but have realised that if we raise the level now, it might take days for water to start coming over the spillway again – not good for the downstream pondlife. So it is probably best to wait until there is a bit more water, but not so much that it would prevent us doing the job.

Swift and House Martin nest boxes – swifts and martins are getting scarce partly because of shortage of nesting sites. The west side of Pilley Bridge would be a suitable place for some nest boxes – just below a ledge that is more or less at the level of the carriageway. It would need scaffolding, or a very long ladder and nerves of steel, to fix them. This would be moderately high profile because everyone would be able to see them, and this time it would be principally for wildlife. Their educational value would also be high.

Enlarge the Community Orchard: a little scrub clearance was done on the bank below the CO last winter but not as much as planned. It would be good to get one or two more trees planted to make it more of an orchard, and cut the bank more so that it becomes accessible, more grassy and open. Winter work.

Up-grade the path across the Community Orchard. It’s not straightforward because of the need to incorporate routes for surface water. We haven’t quite worked out how to do it yet but reduction of the gradient at the entrance will use-up those untidy concrete posts. Watch this space.

New glade: on the south side of the main drag up eastwards from the Community Orchard towards Pilley Bridge there is a spot on the right where a new glade to let in more sunlight could be created easily by removing the Ash saplings and a couple of Hawthorns. Winter work.

Travis Perkins bridge bat roost? Cost maybe £1000.

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