Thorswood SWT Work Party - May & April


Three Staffordshire Wildlife Trust work parties at Thorswood

I've been to Thorswood three times over the past two months. Once in April and twice in May. I've taken quite a few photos during these times for a change. Usually, I don't have time but with the weather being nice we've not been as rushed - we spend more time out the longer the days are. Here is a round-up of what the other volunteers and I have been doing at this reserve recently.

April

In April we were carrying out some spot spraying of ragwort (Senecio jacobaea). Most of it has already been removed/sprayed, but there is a little small ground growth left. We used a citronella based spray that's proven to be rather effective for this. It's also perfectly safe for us when animals are grazing on the land! Ragwort needs to be destroyed as cattle (and other animals) will sometimes eat it if there's nothing else to graze on. Unfortunately they don't know that it is poisonous to them.

Additionally, removing this big thug of a plant allows other native species to grow. This provides a much greater ecological diversity in not only the plants but also the various insects and other organisms which visit them. The greater abundance of wildflowers make the area look prettier!

I didn't actually taken any photos of the ragwort, but here are some shots of the landscape and the cattle.





The trust's Landrover Defender (Landy defendaris) (hehe!) even managed to sneak in here!


May

In May we had a drystone wall to rebuild. It had become damaged over time - possibly due to over-ambitious cows, we suspect. I'd never done any drystone walling before, so when the option of this or installing a bench was presented, I took this! I'm glad I did, as it was thoroughly enjoyable and I learnt a valuable new skill. Here are some photos from the first visit in May.





A couple of other volunteers installed the new bench. The old one was rotten and falling apart. The new one is concreted in below the ground, as they have a habit of going 'missing'...


Later in the month, we returned to finish the wall. Not a bad job for a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs!




Once the wall was finished, we had time to have a wander around the reserve to see what had been accomplished by previous work parties. The group had been here to remove ragwort a few times before in different areas. Sadly I'd not been available to help, but it was great to see the results!

There was some common dog-violet (Viola riviniana).


There were one, or two... thousand... mountain pansies (Viola lutea)!




At the top of the reserve there is a circular stone seat, built by local children and volunteers. The designs in the glass are the children's own, which I think is very creative!




There were quite a few early purple orchids (Orchis mascula).







There was some puffball fungi on the reserve. It's nigh-on impossible to identify which species though without slicing them open - something we didn't want to do.




We saw some cowslip (Primula veris)...


...and some common milkwort (Polygala vulgaris).


The area used to be an active mine! This is one of the shafts, which has been capped.


I took some panoramas on my phone.



It was a lovely few days and we really accomplished quite a bit!

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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