Although we are still a few months away from the frog breeding season, there is always something that can be done to increase the breeding success, One of the primary locations for frogs within the reserve is the pool that exists immediately south of the station platform. Water levels will naturally increase here during the winter months.
One factor in breeding success is access to sunlight and the warming effect of the sun’s rays then reaching the water. To that end, it is an annual process around the pool to cut back some of the willow. The pictures show a before and after at the northern end of the pool.
The cutting back produces waste wood, a lot of which is in straight lengths. This cut material is all incorporated into the dead hedge that surrounds most of the pool, This hedge provides the dual benefit of a natural habitat and a means of discouraging dogs from running into the pool, which is especially important during the breeding season.
The primary asset of Ashlawn Cutting is its grasslands. They are cut and cleared during the autumn/winter season every year. The cut material is always removed to avoid enriching the soil from the decaying vegetation. The grasslands are then best placed to provide the right environment for native wild flowers and grasses. This then forms the wanted environment to support a diversity of invertebrate life.
A group of dedicated volunteers are working on laying a boundary hedge where the cutting, runs alongside the Diamond Jubilee Wood.
The existing tree/scrub stock was not purpose planted for hedging, so the volunteers have to make the best of what is available. This often entails using thicker than desired tree trunks, which are “pleached” to leave a live connection to the rootstock.
Volunteering resumed at the cutting on Sunday 18th April. The focus from then on has been to control and eliminate non-native species. This does cause some concern with visitors, as were are observed removing Bluebells. The bluebell in question is of the Spanish variety. It is both non-native and invasive. It is growing where we would much prefer to have native wild flower and grasses growing, which in turn provide a benefit for the native wildlife.
The Rugby Wildlife volunteer group has made exceptional progress in the latter part of this year, especially having lost over 20 weeks of activity due to coronavirus lockdown. December’s work has focused on two key areas – Maintenance of Pytchley Marsh and creation of new hedgerows.
The volunteer group has made great progress on two fronts – grass cutting and hedge maintenance. We are fortunate to have work that enables the group to spread out to conform with covid-19 distancing requirements, while still having no one left in isolated working.
The annual task of cutting the grasslands and taking off all the cut material has been going for 6 weeks so far, with a few more to go. This exercise is vital to protect and enhance the growth of wild flowers and grasses for the multitude of species that depend on them, This in turn also provides sustenance for the lower end of the food chain!
The grass cutting has been going since last month and with the volume to be completed, will probably keep the volunteers busy on this task until Christmas! This exercise is essential to keep the grasslands open, for the benefit of the wild flowers and grasses that are essential to support the invertebrate life.