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Mardlers’ Heaven

Thursday morning, May 18th, Sustead: 11 trusty volunteers congregated in Sustead, armed with scythes, rakes, loppers, shears and tarpaulins, to carry out essential tidying work. It was a very useful morning, if not particularly energy-sapping. We scythed paths on Sustead Common and at a few overgrown patches in Spurrell’s Wood and cleared nettles in an area adjacent to Gur Beck in Spurrell’s Wood, where a few Cowslips had pleasingly come up after previous habitat management work. This nettle clearance was to give the Cowslips more light and the hedge whips, planted a few years ago, less competition. The arisings from the scything and nettle-clearing were all deposited in a couple of areas where they will provide shelter for a variety of creatures such as reptiles and small mammals, as well as limiting nutrient re-introduction across the site – advice given to us in the recent Habitat Management Plan for our Sustead sites, financed by a grant from the Norfolk Resilient Coast Project funded by the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. We also cleared a pathway through to the bird feeders by the bird hide scrape, which had become badly overgrown with nettles – badly for people but happily for butterflies.

During all of this useful work, many conversations took place. I, for one, learned that a volunteer I have known for ages worked as a medical receptionist at Cromer Hospital for 30 years; that another volunteer was about to go off on holiday to the Okavango Delta; that another had worked, with her husband, in a remote area of lowland Nepal for two years, as primary school teachers; another had recently been looking for Badgers in a Norfolk wood and had seen a Fox chasing a baby Muntjac; and that yet another had just had a week’s holiday in a farmhouse next to the pub in Eskdale where I worked for six months in 1969. Work parties are never dull – and nor are my fellow volunteers!

Peter Maingay

May 18th 2023


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