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Felbeck Trust Muster at the Sustead Cluster

A beautiful, bright morning to be immersed in nature, and not a hint of rain.

It was a real antidote to be driving past two local polling stations on this Election Day (having of course performed my civic duty first) knowing that I would be having three rewarding hours actually doing something practical for nature, with tangible benefits.

Fifteen of us gathered at nine o’clock to listen to the morning’s job list, with the explanations as to why these particular jobs were needed. Basically, the amount of rain we have received over the last weeks and months has meant that vegetation has grown and grown and grown! No better example than the Sustead Cluster. The amount of rain has meant it has been a challenging year for anyone who manages grassland, with the evident growth spurt. This is no doubt a contributory factor to the lack of insects and flowers which have been outcompeted by the grasses. Although we looked for dragonflies and butterflies which have in past years been present on the hedges and meadows in the Sustead Cluster, disappointingly, only a few species of butterflies were observed – Large Skipper, Ringlet and Meadow Brown.

With an ample number of scythers and rakers working as pairs, volunteers set about clearing vegetation on both the north and south paths in Spurrell’s Wood, Sustead Common and The Surveyor’s Allotment.  Clearing around the planted whips was tackled and the roadside verges were worked on, as well as some grassland area in Spurrell’s Wood.

My main task was tackling the ‘Doughnut’, a circular path with a clump of shrubs in the middle, with a twisting path leading to it. This is designed to create a ‘hotspot’ for insects.

This has been a regular focus for me over the years, and one which I enjoy. Today I was surprised to see how overgrown it had become – indeed, it was impossible to walk the whole circular path even though it had been worked on a month or so previously. A couple of large branches were removed, which helped, and with a couple of us working on it, by the end the basic shape of the path had been regained.

Meanwhile, Nick quietly beavered away cutting stakes and binders out of some of our coppiced Hazel poles, in preparation for a future work party where we will install some more leaky current deflectors to re-meander Gur Beck to improve aquatic biodiversity.

It was rewarding during the break to admire the three conservation awards that Felbeck Trust had been presented with a couple of weeks ago, and to know that all of us there had contributed to the awards. It is a real achievement and no small thanks to the huge amount of work that goes on in Felbeck Trust ‘behind the scenes’- researching, planning, organising, mobilising … I could go on.

Thanks to everyone!

Elizabeth Shadbolt

July 4th 2024


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