Today was a mix of emotions

We had Cemex helping us today. A really great bunch of people who worked hard to clear our fallen tree.

For those who know me well, you will know that I went to Henry Hinde Junior School and would wave as the trains went past the school on their way to the Rugby cement works.

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It was just so weird to have the guys from Cemex working on the line that was so important to Rugby Portland Cement, for so many years.

Anyhow, we removed the fallen tree. It was a lot harder than we thought.

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We cut off all the branches and then tried to re-plant it!

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However, the tree did not want to be re-planted!!

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So down the bank it had to go!!!

We have a nice clearing now.

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Well done everyone today. Great team from Cemex, and good turn-out from Me, Mick and John.

I will put the April workday dates on the blog in the next few days.

Lovely day.

Paul

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Bird Boxes are Up!!

Thanks to Andrew who made them, and Aaron who got them up, today. We have just caught the tail end of the period when birds are searching for somewhere to nest, so we can look forward to monitoring and recording what we see, using the iRecord button on the menu bar.

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It was nice to hear from a passing-by  walker, that she had seen a couple of Blue Tits darting in and out of one of the boxes that we put up a few years ago.

John, Marcus and myself just cleared off the last of the ballast ridge, and then tided the section between the picnic clearing and the bird-box clearing.

photo 2What we are trying to do is get rid of the overhanging branches. These make the path feel enclosed and isolated.

photo 1This picture shows the nice open and snaking path. The snaking creates little micro-habitats and stops the path becoming a wind tunnel. With the path running in a north-easterly to south-westerly direction, it is the left-hand side that will get the sun. The right-hand side tends to be quite damp and good for fungi, lichens and mosses. If you click on the links you will see how massive each of these subjects are. Fascinating and good fun when searching for them. Plenty of Jelly Ear fungus today but I didn’t spot anything new.

This will be our last day of cutting back. The trees will start to green up and it will be difficult to see if there are any nesting birds in them.

Next week we are dealing with the tree that has blown down, a little further down the path. We are joined by a small group from Cemex, who want to put something back into the local community.

On the second Sunday of April we will be down by the A45 doing a litter-pick. There is a lot of litter that has built up over the years. We can now work beyond Potford Dam, but we need to let David at Sustrans know what we are doing prior to any workdays.

Thanks for today, guys.

Paul

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Back on the Ridge…

We are being so careful at the moment with nesting birds. We are removing the last of the trees on the ballast ridge, so that we have a dry path, and give the muddy old path chance to grass over.

Four of us today, Carrina, Marcus, John and myself, with a brief cameo from Aaron.

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One more session on this last bit next week, and then we can flip into spring and summer mode.

We still need to get the bird-boxes up. We are very late so they might not get used this year, but will be ready for next year.

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Here is an interesting photo – last week I took a shot of a lovely Jelly Ear fungus. This is how it looked today.

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That is the life-cycle of a fungus, I guess.

Found another fungus.

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Pretty poor shot though. My iphone is really struggling to get close-up shots.

Thanks for the great company today. I was feeling quite miserable about the whole railway-path down to Draycote thing, but you all allowed me to get it off my chest and restore my confidence that we are on the right route.

Looking forward to next week and then getting back to alternating week-days and weekends in April!

Paul

 

 

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Ahead of Target!

Carrina, John, Marcus and myself made it today and finished clearing the ballast path on the south side of the underpass.

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This is a nice dry path and if we can direct people onto it, the muddy path can settle down and recover.

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Nice to see some Holly growing on the edges of the path. This will be a whole new habitat and food source in the autumn.

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Looking north-east, up the path at the start of the cutting leading to the picnic clearing. We can probably take the ballast path back a bit more and brush-cut the bramble off it. On the other side of the path we can scallop the bramble, but that will be a job for the autumn.

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Looking down the path, in a south-west direction, you can see how close we got to the picnic clearing. We just need to keep pushing on and then work out how to encourage people to not keep churning up the mud.

Fungi finds today were a couple of Jelly Ear examples. One very small and another well developed. I have recorded both on iRecord.

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Today was hard work without a doubt. My hands hurt so much with Blackthorn stabbings. My back hurts from trying to drag whole trees into the hedge. But we got there and are now ahead of ourselves. Next week we can push on into the picnic clearing, but also go back a bit and release a bit more of the ballast path.

Great work today, everyone.

Paul

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TREE DOWN!!

Tree down on the greenway. Unfortunately discovered at the end of our workday, so it will have to wait until next time to be cleared.

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However, easy to walk around it, so not a problem.

Aaron, Linda, Howard and myself made it today. We tackled the southerly part of the big clearing and just took the last remaining bit of scrub out, before the path levels and then goes onto embankment.

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We widened the path on the left hand side up to the tree in the centre of the path.

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Looking back from that tree, we then switched to clearing the right hand side and really scalloped the cutting. If we scallop back and forth, left to right, we will create loads of micro-habitats that will be warm and full of wildlife.

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Looking towards Rugby, this clearing has a lot of potential for excellent wild flowers in the spring.

Fungi finds are this strange looking thing.

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Lastly, we had a few interested onlookers today.

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Good work today and only a month of cutting back left before the bird-nesting season starts. When we get into April the main focus will be removing all the tree stumps on the path.

 

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All About The Ballast Ridge

Today we kind of split up. Mick went north of the underpass to cut back bramble with the brush cutter, I started to clear the ballast ridge and create a new path, south of the underpass, and Aaron was down the path, clearing the canopy to let sunlight in.

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Pics to and from where I cleared. Good and dry ballast path with big trees as features.

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This is the muddy path that we want to avoid. We will try and get people off this so that it can compact and consolidate in the summer.

Some good fungi finds..

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Good day today. Loads of people using the greenway and good work done.

Paul

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Wildlife Habitat Piles

First off – look above and you will see a new heading on the menu bar. We should be recording wildlife that we are seeing. In the spring and summer we can add butterflies, wild-flowers and anything else. It also opens us up as a group to anyone who is interested in nature, but unable to get involved with the physical side of the work.

Today was going to be cutting back ash tree shoots, but we instead cleared all the brash that was around the underpass.

Carrina, Marcus, Mick and myself made it today and luckily dodged the rain to make a real difference in this area.

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This is the habitat pile south of the underpass. This will be great for fungi because it will be mostly shaded. However the area is much lighter due to the canopy being opened up slightly.

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This is the habitat pile on the north side of the underpass. This will be in full sunshine so will attract wildlife that likes to stay warm.

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And here we are working away. Mick is ripping out bramble whilst the rest of us chopped and stacked all the brash that was lying about.

Meet at the underpass next Wednesday and work southbound extending a couple of natural glades that exist.

Lastly, just a note about why we are cutting back. If we just leave it, the path will become overgrown and impenetrable. The trees need to be coppiced  (cut back) once every ten years. So we need to be cutting 10% of the trees each year and create a cycle that allows differing habitats with each year of growth. The bramble is the same but on a three year cycle. Again, this creates three different habitats. Year one is new growth, year two is flowering and fruit, year three is aged scrub. New wildlife will arrive and new wild flowers will grow on the bare ground. The path itself will be mowed each side of the inner strip, after any wild flowers have bloomed and seeded, so that we have a three metre wide grassy path. This is the advice that we have from the ecologists as Sustrans, who own the land. I will put in colour-coded marker-stakes at some point to show what areas are at what stage of growth.

Great work today,

Paul

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