Our First Workday Past Potfords Dam.

Bit of a strange one for me, I am just working through a virus that I picked up on Wednesday and really felt out of sorts, so forgive me if it is a bit disjointed, but here goes for our first official blog entry on the new bit.

I think, we had Steve, Marcus, Wayne, Anna, Linda, Jezz, Emma, Howard, Mick and myself today. If I have missed anyone out please let me know and I will add you.

We cracked on with clearing the litter and when we looked like we had broken the back of it, I wandered down to look at the wet bits and see what we can do to fix them.

Firstly, feast your eyes on the litter pictures – how many years of litter???

We had a good old root around at the water under the A45 bridges. I think we can channel it to the lower standing water that is to the west of the path. I gouged gullies with a stick and the water started to flow freely to the lower ground. I think we just need to dig deep gullies with spades and let the middle of the path dry out, whilst the holding ponds on the sides catch the sun, so will be drying out.

Next stop was this bit.

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Just wet and nowhere for the water to go. I will propose to Sustrans that we try and go around this bit by widening the path into a small glade, and cut away anything that is casting shade onto the standing water to stop it drying.

Next stop was this.

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A horribly wet bit. however, there seems to be a freshwater spring on the left of the path and a running stream on the right. We used a stick to make gullies and the water started to drain off the path, and then we made a dam to direct the water across the path, rather than down it. When the path is dry it will just require a step-over.

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The last bit that I got to was the work that we did next to the golf club. We still have stumps to remove from our work here, from last year. However, we have a lovely path forming on the ballast ridge and don’t really need to worry about trying to drain off the original path.

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Our new path is on the left and is dry and lovely to walk.

The path between these four pinch-points is dry and hard-packed. We just need to keep the width over the summer and see what happens with the wildlife and manage a balance between the two.

Loads of bees and butterflies today. Orange-tip, Brimstone, Peacock, Comma, and Whites. It was a riot as they all seemed to defend their territories against each other and from us.

Lots of people using the path. Probably six or seven groups of mountain-bikers and a few groups of walkers.

We became a bit strung out as a group towards the end and I seemed to lose a few people. I probably walked too far down to see what we need to do next time. Hopefully everyone went home happy and fulfilled.

Until next time.

Paul

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Massively Pleased With Progress…

I am so happy with where we are at. The nice wide path is airy and drying out nicely. Looking up and down looks good. Great to work with Mick, Carrina and Aaron, today.

A quick up and down the path shows how dry and wide it is.

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The view from the gate is brown this year. It has been yellow in the past.

Another up and down shot.

It is slowly drying out and greening up.

Some great fungi finds. Dying Jelly Ear.

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And something new.

Looking forward to getting this recognised.

And we have loads of Lichen too…

Lastly, we did a huge litter-pick and cleared out a load of rubbish.

IMG_9110 Next one is this Sunday afternoon at the A45 bridge just clearing up the litter and working out how we can get across the wet bits.

Thanks to all today. Was a lovely day and all the hard graft in the winter has paid off.

Paul

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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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