Friends of Dalby Forest

Volunteering in the Great Yorkshire Forest


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Hot July but it’s the weather for ducks in August

A few hardy volunteers got a bit sweaty for July’s work task in the Enchanted Wood, erecting a new fence to maintain the boundary of the Enchanted Wood (our brash fence was simply too tempting for den builders). August sees our annual fundraiser the Duck Dash. Sunday 5th August from 11am (tickets on sale from c10am). Hope you can come along!

 

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Hedgerow work along the Ellerburn trail

 

Our May worktask involved removing the trees tubes along the Ellerburn trail. A few years ago we planted a range of hedgerow plants including holly and hawthorne but now they are more established, it was time to remove the tubes now that they are less likely to be nibbled by deer and rabbits. We started the task last November – thankfully it was a bit warmer today!

A couple of us also did some more work on the forest garden which has burst into life this week. If you visiting the forest do call in to see it – and catch the Helen Sear exhibition in the courtyard at the same time.

 


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The Staindale lake feeding station

The Friends of Dalby Forest manage the Staindale lake feeding station and Lindsay Wardell takes on the bulk of the role . She recently became ill with a chronic pain condition and had to leave full-time work but this has given her time to come up to feed, study and enjoy the birds in this wonderful setting. Here is a little about what she does and what she sees there. 

I re- fill the feeders once or twice weekly with food which the Friends purchase and have delivered to my house where I can store the food and take just what I require each trip. I have 30 years’ knowledge and experience in all things nature especially birds and have been keeping a yearly diary of all species I record around the area including Dalby. My notebooks span 23 years so there is a lot of information on changes and species specific to Dalby in them and I apply this data whilst looking after the lakeside birds.

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Great tit, Staindale lake feeding station. Photo by Michael Hill

Over 2017, I’ve noted birds such as Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Nuthatch and Siskin using the feeders alongside Marsh Tits and Finches, other members of the tit family, and also Goldcrest which was a first record for that area last year for me. I have also been providing surveys to the forest ecologist on plants and butterflies, other insects, and birds in areas of the forest including the lake. I have noted changes over the years in species that have moved in notably the Dabchick on the lake who have successfully bred in the last few years and increased in number, I’ve also noted many more Willow Warblers with evidence of breeding which seems to be helped by the land management around the lake, where leaving certain areas of grass to grow results in wildflowers such as Meadowsweet, providing rich insect life for the summer Warblers to feed on. Last summer I witnessed 12 Willow Warbler fledglings helping themselves to a bounty of insects from these meadow areas alongside Common and Lesser Whitethroats which are also now in abundance at the lake. In the autumn, I also noted 10 Bullfinches, 4 adults and 6 fledglings, around the lake area. It is even more pleasing to be able to give this information to walkers on occasion who ask me what I’m looking at. I love to share what I see with forest users if they ask and it hopefully encourages and sparks their interest to the great outdoors.

 

At the end of the year, I saw Wigeons stopping over on our lake too, a first for me in all the years I’ve been recording Dalby birds. This thrilled me and shows the importance of the site to wildlife. Recently a lone Heron and Cormorant have set up residence there too and can be seen on misty cold mornings; the former, standing on one leg, and the latter spreading his wings widely looking almost like a flying dinosaur rather than a bird!

I can see clearly how the lake area is helping our wildlife and by feeding the birds every week I can make sure they stay well cared for. It’s been a pleasure so far to help out and I hope to continue in this role for many years.

Thank you to the Friends for entrusting this role to me.

The forest environment can help health and recovery, and the peace and quiet of the forest can be great for all health conditions. We hope you too can come and enjoy the forest and watch the birds and find some proper relaxation too!


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Brushing up on our skills

We had a work task organised for Sunday 21st January but with the Ellerburn trail still under snow and more forecast at Sunday lunchtime, the decision was taken to cancel the task. However we had in any case arranged the first of our Manual handling training courses and so 8 of us attended that in the morning instead, along with some members of Singletraction. We brushed up on the good lifting and carrying techniques we should all be employing given that we can’t totally avoid lifting or moving things (or wheel-barrowing, or shovelling, or pushing, or pulling, or bending and reaching) as a forest volunteer!

All FoDF active volunteers will have to do the course eventually so watch this space for further training days.

 

Lifting and shifting at the maze – but in warmer times!


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Frosty work task at Ellerburn

Thank you to everyone who came out this morning under an amazing blue sky but frosty underfoot for our worktask today.

We removed the tree tubes from the hedge saplings we planted a few years ago along the Ellerburn trail. We had a great turn out, one of the largest of the year and also welcomed new volunteer Janet.