Net Ride Maintenance
Saturday, February 15th 2020
After storm Ciara came snow! This didn't deter the dedicated group of volunteers from coming in on Thursday to help with some much needed net ride maintenance. Over 60, 000 new birds have been ringed at Foxglove over the past 27 years and in order to carry out this important research for the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) the mist net rides need to be managed. If the trees on either side of the ride are taller than the net then the birds tend to skip over the top of the net rather than landing in the nets and therfore reducing the amount of birds caught.
The vegetation is cut back regularly to head height and soon grows up again. Just like when you prune the bushes in your back garden. All of this pruning creates a huge amount of brash and as the net rides are inaccessible with a tracked shredder so a bonfire is the best way to cope with the prunings. Trying to light one in the snow with fresh green willow was a challenge but perserverance paid off and only cotton wool and flint and steel were used to start it! Thinner stems were cut with hand tools such as pruning saws and loppers.
As this job hadn't been done for a long time, some of the branches were too thick for hand tools and a small chainsaw was required.
There was a surprising amount of wood!
Slowly the snow turned to mud as the height of the surrounding trees was lowered significantly. Thank you to everyone who helped out including young people from Northdale Horticulture. The work isn't finished and will continue over the next few worky days.
It would be nice to think that it will be a bit drier next time however, with storm Dennis currently in full swing, this is highly unlikely!
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