The snow and ice stopped our planned task for December but the weather was kind today as the Friends of Dalby Forest gathered for the first task of the year. A small party worked at the Forest Garden brushing, tidying and cutting back, while the majority decided they were very happy to get muddy!
This second group’s efforts were focused on our Drinking Pools for Turtle Dove project and spent the morning removing reeds from former animal ponds up near Ebberston Common. Turtle Doves prefer walk-in access to water and they don’t like steep-edges. We did this in two areas as well as creating a smaller third ‘scoop’ which will hopefully fill with water with the next rainfall.
It was a very physical task to start the year off and it was not a day to worry about your clothes! Thank you to all the volunteers who came out to help including three new volunteers Colin, Diane and Mike. We promise tasks are not always this mucky.
The task next month will also be followed by our AGM at the visitor centre at noon, to which everyone is invited.
With Autumn in the air, our work task this month got off to a foggy start, and we completed the last 25m of the task we started last month. We then moved on to some round barrows (dating to the Bronze Age) in a clearing a short walk away. It was a satisfying task and should mean that the features are free from tree growth for at least a few years!
We had a great task this morning. We cleared vegetation (mostly pine saplings) off a section of one of the many scheduled (protected) archaeological features that sit within the forest. In this case, it was a post medieval enclosure/ boundary, which probably sits upon an even older pattern of land division dating back to the prehistoric period. The bank and ditch feature has not been excavated, so keeping it clear of tree saplings means the stratigraphical information it contains remains intact and preserved and is part of the long term management of the feature. Bit more of a busman’s holiday than usual for me this time since my day job is in archaeology!
Little frogs, beautiful clusters of fungi and birds’ nests provided some extra highlights.
Today’s worktask was thankfully in the cool under the trees at the Enchanted Wood at Dalby Forest. The Enchanted Wood is a natural play area that we help to look after that is specifically for the under 5s. We replenished materials in the barefoot walk, repaired parts of the stone wall & remade the nature art area. The woodland tiny folk have also moved in! Can you find all their doors on your next visit?
We spotted this tweet by Andy Malley last week so we know that some turtle doves have already returned to Dalby. And so it was with some renewed vigour – the beautiful sunny morning also helped – that we made a start on another turtle dove pool, this time at Jerry Noddle. See our previous post as to why we’re doing this!
We’d no bowser this time so will return to fill the pool next week – as it certainly looks like it’s not going to rain any time soon. We make the pools deep enough that ought to mean they should not need to be refilled but it’s an exposed spot so it’s possible we might need to tend to this one a little more than others. This one will now forever be known as Jerry’s Puddle at Jerry Noddle!
It was a beautiful sunny morning in the forest as we embarked on our work task and latest project – Drinking Pools for Turtle Doves. Mattocks and spades were the tools of choice (it was quite stony!) as we made the first of a series of drinking pools.
The Turtle Dove is one of our most threatened breeding birds, and it has suffered a very serious decline in the UK. There are various pressures on them such as unsustainable shooting on their migration route, habitat loss in their wintering grounds but also a lack of breeding success here.
Once they return to the UK (usually from late April), Turtle Doves rely on water – much more than other farmland birds. This is because their chicks are fed a ‘crop milk’ of water and seed, so it’s important that they have access to summer-long clean water sources with walk-in access. FoDF will be making a series of drinking pools to support the population that we know returns to nest every year in Dalby.
We banked up unused spoil alongside one side of the pool and sowed it with wildflower seeds which should encourage some butterflies later in the summer.
Thanks to everyone who came along today! A brilliant effort!
A special shout out should go to all the bird watchers who took part in this year’s ‘Michael Clegg bird race’ which raised the funds to allow us to get the tools and materials for the pools and get the project off the ground.
Thank you to everyone who came to today’s work task and stayed to attend our in person AGM afterwards (thanks to the cafe who provided tea and coffee and amazing lemon cake!).
We continued to tidy up the forest garden, tackled the small willow structures in the park and did a bit of cutting back and reinstate the view from David’s seat on the Yellow trail which had become quite overgrown.
David was one of the original FoDF committee members when the Friends were first formed and the bench was placed here in his memory when he died in 2012. Take a moment next time you are passing and enjoy the view once more!
It was a cold and frosty Dalby morning for our first work task of the year. In previous years, we’ve often had to split the willow task across two days, but we had a brilliant turnout of volunteers so we managed to give all the structures a haircut and get them under some sort of control!
We cut back most things by hand but were rather jealous of ranger Holly’s mechanised loppers! We also said goodbye to Simon, our go-to ranger for everything these last few years, as he moves roles within Forestry England. We’re sorry to see Simon leave, but he can definitely come back anytime if he brings more of those cakes for breaktime!
No helping with the Christmas tree sales or festive crafts for us this year, but it did mean we had our first December work task ever! This year we spent it at the maze which was new to a few people including Andrew who is joining us as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award.
It was very muddy (as usual) but we had mince pies at break time and managed to prep more areas and clear paths as the last circle starts to take shape.