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The day Josh wore trousers

September 10, 2010

A Becky blog

SAS

This week has been an absolute mission for Sam’s Amazing Supersquad, 4 days work on a reed bed at West Bexington Reserve, which is a million miles away from Beacon Hill.  On Monday we went on a reconissance mission down to the reserve to meet up with the guy who looks after the reserve to find out which bit of the reed bed needed cutting down, and to have a look around the reserve and Chesil Beach 🙂

Josh is wearing trousers!! On the hottest day of the year.

So when Tuesday came around and we’d all dried out from Monday’s rain, we set off once more to West Bexington, via Brooklands farm to pick up the tools for the job. It’s a nice scenic route, going past Hardy’s Monument and a red deer farm, and the squad stopped off for a quick look .

Red deer stag and hinds

The plan to cut the reed bed down is part of the management of the entire reed bed. Each year a different section of the reed bed is cut down so that there are different densities of reed within the entire area, from less dense areas only a year old, to very thick areas that are about 5-7 years old. This is for the benefit of the local wildlife; birds that nest within the reeds are very picky about the density of the reeds, if is isn’t very dense then they are more vulnerable to predators and if its too thick then they can’t fly through it. So cutting it down in rotation means that there are always be areas that are bird friendly.

At this time of the year, it is great for cutting the reed bed, the birds are no longer nesting (we did find a very old swan egg) and the reed and the soil is still very dry and so it makes it easy to cut and dispose of. If left till later in the year, the reed bed would be flooded and we wouldn’t have been able to get the power sythe in.

The area we were cutting down was a very dense area of the reed bed.

The daunting task

After picking up the amazing piece of machinery – the power sythe; with massive teeth on the front, the squad arrived at West Bexington. The power sythe made lighter work of the task, whilst the rest of the squad moved the cut reed out of the way, piling it up in the centre of the field. By the end of the day we’d made a massive square in the reed bed.

We couldn’t go all that way and not go on the beach though, so at the end of a very hard days work we went to sit on the beach, and a few brave people went paddling in the very high waves.

Snail outting to Chesil Beach

And so Wednesday arrived, and the squad made the filmilar journey down to West Bexington to continue with the cutting, and most people had a go with the power sythe. Becky came to the conclusion that it was designed for people with really big hands, as it was a bit of struggle when putting on the bike style breaks when turning corners.

We had a trial run at buring the reeds we’d cut, but making a long row of reed with a fire break around it and then burning it, as if we just left all the reed where it had fallen then the new shoots wouldn’t be able to break through it as it was piled up so high.

After 2 days hard work

By Thursday we could practically drive to West Bexington with our eyes closed, and we stormed through the reed bed and had cut down our required section by lunchtime. This left plenty of time for burning it. We decided that this time instead of pushing it into rows, we’d just burn the whole blanket of reed, of course making sure that there was a massive fire break around the edge.

Biggest fire we've ever made

And so we finished our designated area of cutting for the week, this is only about half the area we need to clear though, but we need to recover first.

The area cleared..... in only 3 days

The area of hedges behind the reedbed is excellent habitat for dormice, and a few of us were lucky enough to see a few of these incredibly cute mammals in the hedge 🙂

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