Sunday 13 January 2013

Bashing ash

Today the CFBW Bird Group and the Downlands Trust teamed up to clear ash saplings from The Scrub. This work has been in the pipeline for a while; there are many hundreds of ash saplings growing at The Scrub which is otherwise a healthy mix of hawthorn, bramble, scattered birch etc making for what currently is a very healthy area for breeding birds. Leaving the ash to grow would create an undesirable dominating higher layer that would render the area of little ornithological value and also lessen its butterfly and plant interest. Of course recently ash dieback has been in the news and we had to pause for a moment to reconsider our action but we were reassured that the ash saplings needed to go because of the value of the area and also because cutting back saplings may help to hinder the spread of the disease.

We had a working party today of a dozen or so people adding to some clearance that had been started on Saturday. About five hours' work saw a significant number of saplings removed, buying The Scrub more time if nothing else, which was quite gratifying. I managed to do some actual birding at the patch today as well, the morning producing good views of George the Red-legged Partridge and a fly-over adult Great Black-backed Gull at the farm, plus a flock of ten Meadow Pipits in Hither Field (Banstead Woods sector). A brief look at the farm again in the afternoon yielded a welcome surprise in the form of seven Lapwings in Skylark Field - a nice year tick (52).
George the Red-leg