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Scarlet Tiger Gate!

This blog is a little delayed considering our most recent work party took place on 16 January.  Again we were blessed with bright sunshine although it was really frosty and cold.  Our target was to continue clearing coarse grass and undergrowth which threatens to strangle the improving diversity of flora on the bank we have named Russian vine area, due to the battle against this invader.

We all worked on different sections, some clearing around the base of the hedgerow plants which are now in their second year.  Glad to report that all these look really healthy.

fence and hedgerow.jpg

There were also lots of snowdrops braving the elements.

snowdrops.jpg

We were joined by a new volunteer, Liz, who has a great deal of experience in conservation, working within the Wychavon district.

Whenever we are working on this bank, we attract a great deal of attention from passers-by, including a regular walking group that we have met before.  It also gives us a chance to explain what we are doing and try to persuade others to join us.  One lady asked us about the broom we had planted, so we able to tell her about Green Hairstreak butterflies.  The bridle path is an interesting example of a green corridor and, in addition to protecting the existing lepidoptera, one of our aims is to create the right habitat to attract a natural invasion of this special spring butterfly.  They have been recorded at both ends of the bridle path, so we hope they will one day colonise this corridor.

However, it’s not all good news, although this particular item has an unexpected outcome.  Earlier in the week, one of the locals had contacted me to advise of an incident involving the gate, which had fallen victim to a police car chase – would you believe it in broad daylight at 1015 on the Wednesday morning before our work party.  Police were chasing 3 men in a stolen car, which crashed through the gate and careered along the bridle path and then down towards Bunkers Hill Wood.  The above picture shows where the gate ended up.  The chain fixing it to the gate post stood firm, although the post itself was a little wobbly.  It’s a miracle that no-one was hurt in this incident, it is such a popular byway for dog walkers, cyclists and horse riders.  The gate itself is badly bent but has been put back on its hinges.

gate-restored.jpg

Steve also alerted me to another problem in the same area.  The wild flower patch on the south side of the gate is bordered by an ancient sandstone wall, the same design/construction as the cemetery perimeter wall.  Growing adjacent to this wall are 2 sycamore trees.  One of the differences of opinion to which we are exposed is the best thing to do with the trees along the lane.  Some people are fiercely defensive of the trees whilst others ask us if we can remove some that they feel are adversely affecting their property.  We try to steer clear of these problems but no-one seems to like sycamores and the 2 next to the wall, had the potential to pose a serious hazard.  The sandstone wall looks very fragile in places and local residents had expressed their concerns regarding the added threat posed by the sycamores.

Thus eventually, part of the wall has recently collapsed, forcing the council to take action.

Photos show the collapsed section of wall and the barrier erected by the council blocking the footpath for safety reasons.  The photo below shows the proximity of the sycamore which, no doubt, contributed to the problem.

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However, this incident has a happy outcome for all.  When I visited yesterday, there were 2 workmen on site, complete with what looked like a mobile toilet.  Both sycamores had been chopped down and the workmen assured me that the plan was to re-build the wall.  I didn’t take any photographs of them working but fear of creating the wrong impression!  However, this is great news, not only for our project which was seriously hampered by the sycamores but also for the locals.

I always like to end these blogs on an up-beat note, so how about a photograph of some primroses which are coming into flower on the Scarlet Tiger bank.

 

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