Every year the Work Party volunteers join with the Visitor Centre Vols in a Christmas barbecue on the last Thursday of the work party year. A strange concept perhaps to have a winter barbecue but after many years of practice we have it off to a fine art. Dave and Mhairi set up the barbecue outside and take care of the cooking (one of the many talents the Campfield staff possess), while in the Visitor Centre the rest of us set out the food everyone has brought. Good food and a good natter, what could be better! (See Judith’s recent blog for photos of the barbecue).

 This year, before the barbecue, Dave led a walk round the reserve to show us how the exciting plans for extending and restoring the bog and increasing the wetting up of the fields will work. The first signs of the new work are the diggers advancing from the eastern edge of the reserve. They are smoothing out the hard edge of the bog and creating a series of mini bunds to hold back water. This work will also bring waders and other birds closer to visitors. 

Exciting times ahead, and some interesting jobs for the Thursday work party in the schedule for the next six months drawn up by Mhairi. There’s a wide range of jobs to come, from clearing scrub round the ponds and reed mace from the Discovery pond, taking out fences and weed wiping rushes, to snipe and willow tit surveys, predator surveys (aka looking for fox poo) and weeding the hedges; and much more besides.

After the Christmas break, the Thursday work parties resume on Thursday January 3rd, meeting at 9.30 at Campfield. Why not come and join us?

The other workers on the reserve, the cattle, have gone now, their job done for this year. They’ve eaten the grass, and some of the rushes, down to the right level for nesting waders in the spring. Next year they’ll be back, including some of the hardy breeds like Belted Galloways, which will do the job even in wet fields.

 A dozen sheep have been borrowed from a local farmer to “mow” the grass in the wild flower meadow. They will eat the grass down to enable the flowers to flourish next year and provide nectar and pollen for a host of insects.

If you’ve been in the car park at Campfield recently you will have noticed a very large tree trunk which has appeared there. It is bog oak which was discovered buried in the bog at the far side of Bowness Common by a local farmer and kindly transported to Campfield so more people could see it. Fascinating to imagine this huge tree when it was  growing (how many hundreds or thousands of years ago?) and to wonder what the landscape was like then. Very different from today I suspect.

Happy Christmas everyone.