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CSI Beacon Hill

July 16, 2010
A post by Becky and Claire

Sam’s Amazing Super Squad

It’s the end of another week….how did that happen. As ever it has been busy and filled with epic adventures. At the end of last week the teamventured to Tadnoll to pull up some pesky Ragwort from a field that horses graze on over winter. A task some may say was too easy for us, as we pulled it all up in record time. After lunch we grabbed our nets and headed to the river to do a spot of dipping. However, the cows weren’t having any of it and we decided it would be best to leave them in peace.

Doing our bit for the ponies

Monday 12th July

So the weekend passed and some of got older (not wiser) and then Monday rolled around. Sam’s Amazing Super Squad was joined my 3 new work experience students- Matt, Lewis and Alex, who had been kindly let out of their classrooms by their teachers to join us. It was decided that it was the right sort of day to do some birch and pine clearance at Coombe Heath, so the intrepid group set off.

When we got there we checked under a couple of tins to see if there was anything exciting under them. We were in luck, under the second tin there was an adder. This made Becky very happy as she has now seen all 6 native reptiles. 🙂

Annie the Adder

 So we got to work clearing the birch and pine sapplings that have started to encroach onto the heathland, which is not so good for the heathland species as if the trees shade out the desirable vegetation. We cleared tons of it, and then after lunch headed back to the centre to mee Bee man Dave to help him do a bee survey on Upton Heath, as part of his dissertation project. Back at the centre an electrical fault meant the fire alarm went off and so being the responsible people we are we all went and stood in the car park. However, this ended in disaster for Becky when she fell down a hole, in typical Becky fashion.

Tuesday 13th July

The group went to Lorton Meadows in Weymouth to improve the gateway into the meadow. In the winter this entrance gets very muddy so we created a frame which was filled with gravel and stone (which we made ourselves from smashing up bits of concrete) in order to make it easier to get in and out.

All work was overseen by Mr Digger site foreman

A man from the Youth Action Network came all the way from Bristol to speak to Sam about how amazing the volunteer programme is…. of course you all know this already.

Anger venting and stone smashing


Wednesday 14th July

Restoring ponds was the days game. We went over to the Purbecks to meet Rachel and to restore an old pond which is hoped will attract Great Crested Newts when its finished.

Great Crested Newt

First we had to clear away lots of the bramble and trees that were invading the pond area and then after lunch and cake we started digging out the pond. We got lots done, and will be going to finish of the job next week because we’ve been promised more cake (not that we’re obsessed with cake). Stay tuned for more (and photos).

Thursday 15th July

Kilwood. A large branch had fallen from a veteran Oak tree and was blocking the footpath. The mission for the squad today was to safely remove the branch. Sam, the groups fearless leader, gave the volunteers a chain saw demonstration. As a group we considered the best and safest way to cut sections from the tree for removal. It was a very interesting exercise as there were so many factors to consider – it’s not just about chopping things up! We enjoyed a lovely barbeque (and nearly faded from hunger as Josh was left in charge of getting the fire going!) for lunch to celebrate the end of placements for a couple of the team.

A huge branch from a very old Oak - heavier than it looks!

While we were waiting for Josh to make fire to cook lunch the rest of the DWT squad did a little more Ragwort control in the horses field at Kilwood. After lunch we had a tour of the site and saw some interesting features of this lovely reserve. Well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.

Josh approved of the ancient woodland, or as Josh calls it 'old forest'


Friday 16th July

It’s all drama drama drama!! Beacon Hill became the setting for an episode of CSI today, as this morning everyone arrived to find the gate had been rammed repeatidly and was bent and hanging by its hinges. As the CSI department weren’t going to arrive till the afternoon this meant that the gate couldn’t be opened and therefore we couldn’t get any of the vehicles out of the car park and so couldn’t go to any of the reserves.

Look police tape. It's like being in a TV show

The plan for the day was to go to Alder Hills to create a duck island in the pond. So with that plan out of the window we set about making the duck island here to be transported to Alder Hills at a later date. 2 big blue barrels, 2 pallets, and chicken wire was expertly put together to make an island, and a second is underway.

We were short of ducks so we demonstrated ourselves

 Next we were going to help build a shed but on reading the instructions and realising that it would take 7 hours and probably needed a degree in engineering we decided to leave it for the people that bought it.

We finished off the week by eating cake and biscuits, so nothing out of the ordinary then!

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