A classic case of … not this time!!
A much better morning in the reserve today – more achieved with less people – but of course our work today didn’t have anything to do with duckweed, rowing boats and ponds. There were ‘only’ four of us which made for the greater difference straight away, Head Warden Robert, three volunteers and a wicked piece of kit called Katy! Katy is a demon when it comes to brush grass and weed cutting. She is a Brush Mower and is the ideal lady to have on tropical undergrowth expeditions!
There would have been a time when a brush mower would not have been around for the work, we had to do today which was creating a new pathway through dense overgrowth. However, luckily the days of Harrison Ford, wide brim hats and the deft use of razor sharp machetes is behind us. Of course, Katy was being expertly handled by volunteer John otherwise she would have gone off on her own crazed tangents and if Katy is a demon, John isn’t far behind as he has one true love next to wanton destruction and that is power tools!! John and Katy were in their element this morning beavering away through the undergrowth like a pair of new lovers!
|This’ll not mean much to some but the pathway you can/might see used to be 3′ high overgrowth – but with Katy and John, we now have a path in 30 minutes whereas previous times this would have taken us all day and some to clear the same 200 feet.|
Whilst Robert, myself and Peter [another volunteer] were walking behind taking care of the smaller bits of business found in trimming straggler weeds like overly long nettles and bramble that was determined to ruin our day had it snagged on us. Rob and l were at least wearing long pants, but Peter was in shorts and if anyone would benefit more from not having a straying straggler saying hello to bare flesh it would be him!!
Katy is ideal for barging her way through undergrowth as in cutting it at the very base of the root, but cannot tackle anything that overhangs the pathway, which is why we three were working on the weeds behind her and John.
The difference between today’s work and Wednesday’s work apart from the blatantly obviousness of NOT pulling an insidious weed out of a pond was that we could work and talk at the same time. Once the path was cut, Robert and John went one way and Peter, and l went another armed with an assortment of branch loppers, secateurs and hedge shears and walked the entire reserve – promising to meet in the middle …. ish [see the ISH is everywhere!] – attending to straggling weeds and overhanging branches to keep the paths clear for those who come to visit and take a leisurely walk around the entire site. Peter and l walked all the outer pathways and cleared a huge number of the weedy stragglers out.
There are a lot of paths to be cut. I was thrilled to discover this new image on Google Maps today, so you can now see the enormity of the reserve and especially the pond ….. look at the image above l displayed in the Dear Blog last week and it shows the area from four years ago, but the image below shows it as it is today!!
In the above images you can see on the left how the reserve looks from the air today, whilst on the right where all the paths are. In dark blue these are the existing paths, aqua are new paths to be cut for visitors in the autumn and in red is the ‘secret path’ we cut today from the hidden ‘hide’ overlooking the freshwater pond which cannot be seen from the air due to the overgrowth.
The irony in fact of the new Map is that whilst it is a new insertion for Google, it is still three months out. That image was taken in March of this year not long after the Environmental Agency dredged the pond and streams out. Because although the pond that can be seen is bigger than previously seen, those dirty brown trims are in fact the dredging wastes and they are now overgrown with summer foliage. But at least it is a clearer image.
|Lime green front of pond visible – fuschia area is back of pond which cannot be seen.|
From my perspective it is still fascinating to see it from the air because where the proposed ‘aqua pathways are to be cut this autumn, there is ‘no current access’ to the back of the pond’ and l cannot even really grasp how big everything is because everything is vastly overgrown. The image below was taken last Wednesday, and the rowers here are currently literally just in front of that back section of the pond! I am very keen to see the back of that area in the next few months.
This morning was a good day volunteering for many reasons … 1] the smaller team as we were got way more work done at an increased rate of productivity even with talking and joking, 2] l learned more about the politics of the reserve itself and 3] because as volunteers we felt we have actually made a difference and an imprint of our work there today was left and would be appreciated by visitors and finally, 4] because Robert as head honcho was really pleased with all the work achieved as he too is not one in support of wasting time on the pond as he believes it to be futile, but because his hands are tied by the Trust committee, the council, the EA and the conservationist groups he can’t do anything about anything until the ‘breeding seasons’ are over.
I was thrilled for a lot of reasons also – making an impact and doing something worthwhile and because yesterday l was dreadfully ill with gastrointestinal problems and for most of the day was bent over double and was concerned that l wouldn’t be able to help out today after saying l would. So that was a huge bonus in my books.