Cotton Dell SWT Work Party - January, February & March


A roundup of the last three Staffordshire Wildlife Trust work parties at Cotton Dell

Because we are often so busy, it's rare that I take enough photos at a work party to fill a blog post. The first three work parties of the year (January, February and March), all at Cotton Dell, were no different. I've therefore decided to include them all in one post!

We've been carrying out quite a bit of coppicing on the first two sessions. We cut down a lot of willow in order to create some mini-glades. We burnt some of the willow to remove it and left some large piles to create new habitats. At the third session, we were removing Rhododendron. When it's in gardens and well managed, it's a perfectly fine plant. Somewhere like this though, it becomes invasive and destructive. Therefore it has to go!

January

I took the most photos in January. This was probably because I'd never been here before, so it seemed like a good idea! The walk up to the area we would be working made me think of The Lord of the Rings (one of my favourite books!) It seemed all rather fantastical and magical! Here are some photos from this month.

This is the area we were clearing.


Some of the willow was quite tall, so we had to wear hard hats...


There was a wooden dragonfly...





I half expected a troll to appear from below this bridge, a bit like the one from the story 'Three Billy Goats Gruff'...


There was a tiny bit of snow around...










Who’s that trip trapping over my bridge?



Then I saw these! Fairies! In the woodland! See? Magical! These were first installed in 2012 by Fantasy Wire, as part of the Fairy Trail for the Oakamoor Village Festival. Aren't they brilliant?!




February

This month was not much different to last month. The only exception was that the Winter heliotrope (Petasites fragrans) had started to flower. This is a plant which thrives in areas of damp woodland, preferably on a riverbank!



March

This month we were removing Rhododendron from the area around the pools. This allows other species to grow which had previously been 'pushed out' by this aggressive plant.

There was some Scarlet Elf Cup (Sarcoscypha austriaca) fungus...


In the pond, there was a lot of frogspawn...



We saw one frog, quite far from its babies and looking very unhappy and lost. I returned it to the water's edge, whereupon it leapt in and starting croaking happily!

These were another enjoyable few days. I usually find something new to get excited about when we go to the reserves and Cotton Dell has to have been the best one yet!

If you're interested in joining a work-party, you can find more information here: 
http://www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/volunteer. Information for the work parties is under the conservation volunteering opportunities section. You'll meet some wonderful people, learn a little something, and generally just have a good time!

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