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One Week On And Still Loving It

May 7, 2009

Hello again all

The 3 Bournemouth University students are back and ready for action after the Bank Holiday weekend!  So far we’ve taken on manual labour at Lorton Meadow, manual labour at Brownsea, and gues what, you got it, orchid counting at Corfe Mullen Meadow!

All this manual labour and orchid counting, really can get to a guy!

Friday 1st May 2009

Just before the weekend set in, we ventured down to Lorton Meadow, near Weymouth, for a brief (ha!) digging session to solve some of the problems created by a rather large road passing through the Nature Reserve.  Noel took us about and showed us the problem, explaining that as a result of the 2012 Olympics, and Weymouth being the Sailing centre, better access was needed in preparation.  Unfortunately, this has meant the loss of a proportion of the reserve, with additional problems resulting from the construction.  At the moment, large amounts of surface water are gradually shifting gravel and parts of the reserves own access, so we set about, under the careful guidance of Noel, to sink a drainage channel into the ground.

Armed with a variety of tools, including one digger, we (Noel) dug the trench ready for the drainage pipe.  Renuka, Laura and Pete then set the drainage pipe and covered it with gravel, after which careful attention was paid to fully landscaping the area for a picture perfect scene, as you can tell!

4 rather happy looking workers

That ended our first week of our work placement, and we were awarded with a long weekend, ready for work again on Tuesday.


Tuesday 5th May 2009

Renuka and Pete went out to Brownsea Island with Amanda and a voluntary group to tackle a Rhododendron problem that has been a legacy of the glorious Victorians.  With the beautiful little island left fairly undisturbed, the migrant Rhododendron plants are able to frolic and spread at their hearts content, so much to the stage that resources needed by the illusive Red Squirrel, are becoming scarce.  As eco-warriors, we set about hacking down the Rhododendron’s with anything at hand, saws, loppers, bags and brute strength.  It was enlightening to know how much our work had helped, since similar work has been going on for the last 40 years, and anticipated to carry on for the next 20!  But we worked hard and got a lot done, which was really rewarding.

One of the Rhododendron piles, with worried Rhododendrons in the background!

Plus the lunchtime views kept us all rather mesmorised, almost as though we were in some sort of lost world!

Brownsea Island paradise beach


Thursday 7th May 2009

Today the mighty 3 have been just down the road to Corfe Mullen Meadow with Andy and Nigel, and a large volunteer team.  We met at the Meadow and everyone was shortly briefed on what the situation was.  Currently, orchid numbers in the meadow have been fluctuating, with lows of 2694 orchid individuals in 2008, up to 19788 orchid individuals in 2006.  This fluctuation seems to be the result of natural variation and weather influences etc, but it is still very important to keep check of this orchid population.

Green Winged orchid at Corfe Mullen

Ropes were laid out between fence posts on either side of the meadow, to form long transects used to help count the orchids.  We surveyed from each end and met up in the middle to get the transect total.  Then the process started all over again.  After an hour, a tea break was naturally needed, its hard work looking at orchid after orchid after orchid after orchid after orchid (you can see where this is going!).

Orchid specialist congregate for tea

We had a game to predict the total number of orchids at the half way point.  Values ranged from 2000 through to 12000, so it was reassuring to know that we were all looking at the same area and thinking the same – I’d love to see our lecturers faces at Bournemouth Uni!  But Helen came in almost spot on, with the grand total of 5866 orchids.  Well done to all those who helped, this was quite a mammoth task, especially when first faced with something that looks a little like this!

orchids, orchids, more orchids and a few bad backs after this day!

Fortunately though, as we finished, more work was needed to be done, so we went on a Bracken bash round the edges of the meadow, being careful to leave all the Bluebells that are out in bloom.  Then the ropes needed to be cleared away so we could all have lunch and relax.  Whilst for most ‘normal’ people, the daunting task of reeling in a 125m length of rope was somewhat unappealing, you could always rely on a smile from Kenny (or Laura!)

If not eating, she's smiling!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve D permalink
    May 7, 2009 3:45 pm

    Seems that you’re all having a great time! I’ll have to come up with something less exciting for next week – or you won’t want to go back to Uni!

    Great to have you with us, keep up the good work, and the blogging!

  2. May 8, 2009 11:59 am

    Excellent news that the orchid numbers are up at the Corfe Mullen Meadows. It must be really confusing trying to count all those orchids, that all look identical. I will be down there this weekend to take photos of them. Great blog post. Keep it up. Jane

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