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.
Our worktask this morning was at the maze. It was colder than we were expecting and we even had some hailstones and rain showers every so often. We mended pallets, shifted stones and weeded the inner circle, and even found a little lizard – who did not move very much having been fooled into thinking that the earlier sun meant it was warm!
Thanks to everyone who came including two new volunteers Sue and Vanessa.
This month’s work task saw us working at Staindale Lake. We were joined by members of the GoodGym running group who are a group of runners who “run to do good” via community work. They were racing at the Dalby Dash 10k race but offered their services for an hour before the race so they were put to work pruning the accessible trail around the lake. We greatly appreciate their help and hope they had a good run afterwards!
Regular Friends of Dalby welcomed new volunteer Judith F, newly arrived in the area, and our work focused on the area around the bird feeding area. A thick humic soil had built up around the feeders and it was getting very muddy during the winter and made access difficult. As we discovered, a lot of this was simply a build-up over tarmac and so the water just had nowhere to go. Hopefully having clearing it back will make things easier. In addition we dug out a ditch behind the feeders to further help with drainage and the birds immediately sprung into action to get at all the newly uncovered worms!
We also moved the feeders that were hung in the trees (almost impossible to get at during the summer when the trees are in full leaf) and hung them on a newly installed arch and have made room for two new bird tables we’ve arranged to be made.
We have further plans for this area, not least to install a bench to enable more comfortable bird watching. Watch this space!
Thank you to all the volunteers who came along to the work task this morning. There were only 6 of us but it felt like we achieved a lot.
We laid a membrane to suppress the weeds in the area behind the cafe at the courtyard (it’s very stony so that seemed the best way to kill off the weeds). We will work in this area next year as it is technically also part of the forest garden. We have lots of strawberries and currants to plant there.
In addition, we built a bug house (hotel?) with some pallets kindly donated by Mark from the maze . There are so many insects in the garden especially ladybirds and beetles at the moment, so we hope they enjoy their new accommodation!
The forest garden in the Lower Courtyard at Dalby where we have been working last Autumn has many of these features. Of course we are especially lucky because we have a built-in water feature flowing right alongside! Can’t wait to watch it grow back in the spring.