Bollin Valley Partnership - What is Happening in the Bollin Valley
During this years tree planting season we are embarking on a new project at Rossmill in the Trafford area. We have always managed the sites meadows for wildflowers but have been less successful in one of them, with only a small variety of wild flowers. It is in this 'top meadow' that we are planting a Hazel coppice both to contribute to carbon capture in the area and to provide materials in the future for a number of crafts. It is hoped that in a few years time we can start running green woodworking courses on site. So far we have planted 50 trees with a further 200 planned for January. Pictured here is Ranger Roger clearing the meadow ready for planting.
Autumn and winter is a good time for assessing the state of the footpaths as much of the strimming and path clearance required in the summer months has now been completed. We look for signs of wear and tear and the general condition of the footpath surfaces, the many stiles, fingerposts and waymarkers so that we can plan the repairs over the winter. Pictured here is a path in the Wilmslow area that has suffered from the high water levels of the River Bollin in times of high rainfall. We need to protect the river banks in order to keep the path from being washed away.
Socially distanced volunteering
During this pandemic, some of our volunteers were keen to carry on the great work they do in our countryside sites. We have had help keeping our footpaths well maintained, controlling invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed as well as general help on our sites. Pictured here is a small, socially distanced group of volunteers from The Friends of the Carrs who made the most of the sunny autumn weather and planted spring bulbs, wild flowers and trees at the Carrs in the orchard area, wildflower meadow and Jubilee woodland.
Keeping the nation walking
All the rangers are busy keeping the footpaths clear of vegetation by mowing, strimming and hedgecutting. We are also running repairs on any countryside furniture that's looking a little tired or suffering from the extra traffic due to the strange year we've had. Pictured here is Ranger Roger trying to put in a new stile whilst trying to keep a herd of curious cattle off the road! We're still seeing more people than usual on all the countryside sites and so we are also spending longer on maintenance - it's great to see lots of people out and about though.
Wild flower meadows
This month it's all about keeping the network of footpaths open. The rangers have been doing lots of strimming and hedge cutting and the odd bridge repair as in this picture where the handrails had been broken off by vandals. The cattle are busy maintaining our wildflower rich grasslands as they happily graze large areas so we don't have to mow them.
Conservation of Barn Owls
We work closely with the National Trust to help with the conservation and management of their land in the Bollin Valley. This mainly involves conservation grazing with our herd of Longhorn cattle but we also get involved in specific schemes. In one of the areas we manage there is an owl box which this year is home to a family of Barn Owls. Pictured here are the chicks from the nest being ringed so that we can keep track of them and help in the conservation of this iconic species.
Over the period of the pandemic we have seen a vast increase in the number of people using our parks and countryside sites which is great but requires a bit more maintenance than normal. All the rangers have been busy keeping the footpaths open and where possible, have been widening them to allow easier social distancing. Shown here is Ranger Roger at Rossmill, creating a lovely wide path for people to use near the river. This has also helped to keep the Himalayan Balsam out of the summer meadow by strimming before it can flower and set seed.
Cattle back out grazing our parks
Over the past couple of weeks we have been bringing the Longhorn cattle back out to the sites to 'mow' the vast areas of grass we have to manage. The best places to see them are at Wilmslow Park, Teggs Nose and Riverside Park.
Work for the rangers continues
Many of you will have come across one of our rangers as they continue to work on our sites around the Bollin Valley. We have had to adapt our working practices and are working more on our own but we are still out every day to make sure that the paths and countryside sites are looking good and safe for everyone to use.
Spring arrives in the Bollin Valley
With all the wet and miserable weather we've had for the past few months it was nice to come across some signs of spring in the valley. Pictured here are the first two Longhorn calves of 2020, happy to be inside on a cold day.
This month were were involved in organising a biosecurity workshop to educate land managers about Non native invasive species. We're trying to prevent the spread or introduction of species such as 'Killer shrimp' which eat up all our native freshwater shrimp in rivers and streams as well as destroying the ecosystem by eating everything else smaller than them!
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