Stepping Out

Stepping Out Directory
Season 10 โ€“ Autumn 2021
Sunday 24th October 2021
Gazen Salt’s very own Jemima Puddleduck!
Headline image โ€“ Stand in Jemima.
Whilst Suze and l were walking during the week in the reserve we came across this lovely duck, who Suze suggested resembled with her stance and gait Jemima Puddleduck! This duck is one of the hybrid ‘backyard ducks’ that was donated or l should say ‘dumped earlier this year.

I received an email earlier this week asking was l still working in the Reserve. Yes, l am, but l only volunteer one day a week now as opposed to six weeks ago when l was working 4 -5 days a week. The reason being, l simply have too much to do on a day to day basis now with gardening, composting, vermicomposting, reading, studying, blogging and launching a new business. But each Wednesday l am there from 08.45am to 12.00 midday.

I also walk in the reserve perhaps five times a week as either my main walk of the morning or as an addition to the ramparts walk around town. I was busy at the reserve before working on Operation Duckweed as we jokingly referred to it as, but as you can in the above photo, the waters are beautifully clear now.

We are now busy with what they class as the autumnal tasks which is mostly clearing, pollarding, barking the paths in readiness for winter weathers, removing surplus perimetre fencing, clearing the brush around the other hidden ponds and the bird watcher’s hide and general maintenance duties. We are few on the ground at present and if you exclude the Warden and the prime conservationist and the fundraiser [ a member of the Charity committee] then there is only a handful of ‘boots on the ground volunteers’. Each week, the numbers change due to absences and people taking breaks as well as the occasional straggler not wanting to take part due to poor weather conditions. Weekly, we number as an average around 9 people and then if you add the three fixed people mentioned initially then we are at around 12.

This November there is to be a kind of ‘open day recruitment drive’ affair to be held which hopefully will encourage more people to volunteer and donate.

For the last two weeks l have been involved with barking duties or chipping on the paths which is a hard job anyway as it entails you walking backwards and forwards all around the reserve and usually following behind the tractor and trailer the latter of which you have filled with bark chips, although that broke last week and so we all had to walk with wheelbarrows from the hut where the mounds of bark chip are to the paths and sadly also last Wednesday l had to continue doing that as well – but alone for most of the morning.

I was a tad irked last week, as the fundraiser was put off by the poor wet weather and so decided to call a volunteer committee meeting, that required the warden to be there. The prime conservationist was on holiday, had he not been, l really couldn’t see that the fundraiser could have gotten away with the meeting. In my opinion, if you want to discuss things to do with the ‘open day’ then do that in the comfort of your homes or organise a trip to a pub. I give my time to work, and whilst l don’t mind a bit of social banter – l don’t wish to sit on my arse talking about stuff, l want to be busy doing stuff.

So last Wednesday it was just me walking 500 steps minimum each way [l walked 20,000 steps with trips back and forth that morning!!] from the bark chip pile to the reserve pathways armed with a shovel and a wheelbarrow. The reason the ‘meeting’ was called so suddenly was that we had experienced dreadful rainfall the previous night and morning prior to 08.45am and this put people off working??

Making matters more annoying was that everyone turned up at 10am, so the warden and l started the bark chips before 9am, but he was then dragged off at 10 to discuss the ‘open day’ – something he didn’t want to engage in either – but he felt compelled to attend. But as was forecast the weather improved wonderfully by 10am as well, meaning that people could have worked instead of sitting down discussing promotional calendars to be sold alongside cupcakes at the recruitment drive?? Oh hell yes, that makes perfect sense! It took 8 people from 10.15am – 11.55am to discuss that …………

……. so l was quite pooped by the time l had finished at midday but you can see where l was working with barrow and bark chips in the above photo. You can see the bark chip mound at the start of the journey and you then walk with your overfilled wheelbarrow all the way into the reserve. Some journeys were shorter than others, but by the time your day is getting longer, each walking journey gets longer, towards the end of the morning my stepcounts were 1000 steps each way.

It looks way better now anyway ….

Other works that have been ongoing have centred 1] in the area l have been barking and 2] around the conservation/bird watcher’s hide. We have a few ponds within the reserve but only one hide. A hide for those who don’t understand the term is referring to ‘an enclosed area or hidden sheltered area within foliage which are used to observe wildlife – mostly birds. In the diagram below, if you look for the round pond on the middle bottom, you can also see the small rectangle that is called the hide.

It’s not a true hide as l would see it, but it is a shed that is designated to birdwatchers for this particular pond. Personally, l think a hide of this size is wasted here and would have been more valuable where the second hide originally was sited, but that has now gone due to storm damage and vandalism. The second hide also visible on the diagram above can be seen to the left side of the main pond.

The ‘hide’ area over the last four weeks has undergone a lot of clearance work and sadly burning’s too. I have made mention to this before but l believe we should be shredding everything we clear down and all that is happening is that it is being burned. This was one of the reasons l opted to do bark chippings only as volunteer task work – l simply find the whole business of burning everything somewhat hypocritical and keep asking that the committee look at purchasing a shredder, because we could use the mulch for the paths.

The freshwater pond l have always liked and it was in many of the episodes of this series initially, but it has changed considerably in recent weeks and l think it has gone from serene and idyllic to somewhat bland and boring. The hide itself needs a new roof, and quite recently it fell victim to graffiti vandalism in the form of a nice piece of art, but not needed here. The artist thought that the front part of the hut needed to be painted in silver and needed to display three witches …… I haven’t got an image of that … but it is typical vandal behaviour. We all agreed that if we could get him, we would ask him to make something a bit more environmental because he really is quite talented ….

The two images below display the freshwater pond and how it used to look with the trees around the water’s edge, however the conservation crew decided that the trees around the edge had to go as the leaves that would drop would cause a problem with the pond and so the decision was made to pollard them down.

Pollarding as a term refers to a pruning system which involves the removal of upper branches to a tree, and it reduces the overall height of the tree and its aim is to keep the trees small. They used to be pollarded on a regular basis however, the reserve did lay dormant for many years and it was only in 2019, when wardens were reappointed to it by the charity so now many methods that were lost are being resurrected and from this point onwards the trees surrounding this pond will always be kept small.

However, l simply think it has taken a lot of the character away from this location …. maybe it will look better this time next year.

The business blog will have a series that is all about the work in the reserve, and whilst l will still discuss it on the occasion here in the interim period of the new blog’s launch, it will become more of dedicated focus over there as a ‘work project’. Stepping Out as a series will be as it always is, musings in the countryside here.

So there we go, hopefully that answers the question … yes l am still at the reserve. i will leave you with two non-Jemima Puddleducks, but lovely all the same as they are perched on the bridge overlooking the world at large.

Thanks for reading, catch you next time.

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15 thoughts on “Stepping Out

  1. Ahhh… the “meetings”๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ I recall meetings from both my work days and my volunteer days.
    It seemed to me that volunteers take these meetings far more seriously than actual employees. PTA meetings were very strict with the reading of the minutes, and each officer’s report.

    1. This particular meeting was more of a ‘hey what do you all think to this idea of a, b, c and d concerning the promotional open day at the end of November’ type of question.

      I was invited, but l said l wasn’t wasting a good day’s weather to sit down and talk about stuff that didn’t need my input anyway considering l had given lots of ideas concerning marketing which no one thought was that important, so l decided to stay out of it and work.

      There was no reason for anyone to stop work on Wednesday and yet they all did. If it was Soooooooooo important, they could have discussed it at home instead of laughing and joking and giggling on garden seats in front of the pond or the fundraiser could have made more of a social outing and asked if people wanted to talk about it at a pub.

      That would have still been too social for me and a waste of time, but apparently the volunteers all seem to think that their say makes one iota of difference to the overall scheme of things and look for any opportunity to sit down and discuss social trash …… hey ho, that’s the social lot for you ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hey Geoff, you are not wrong, last Wednesday l achieved 20,354 steps for my time in the reserve in those few shorts hours in comparison to my overall step count for the day at 25,016.

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