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Net Lanes, Paths and Whips at West Beckham Old Allotments

Fine weather (at last!) brought ten volunteers to West Beckham Old Allotments on Thursday June 20th, the day before the solstice. After an introduction from Trevor, outlining our tasks – potentially at WBOA, West Beckham Green and East Beckham Common – with a tick warning thrown in – we set to in three distinct groups.

Firstly, Trevor and Carol set about erecting removeable fencing in gaps in the boundary hedges, now used by Felbeck Trust Ringing Group to set mist nets. These net lanes run at right angles though the hedge and birds, using the cover of the hedges to move around the site, are more easily trapped. Trevor told me how, when he first started ringing in the early ‘80s, you could put a net practically anywhere and you would trap lots of birds. How things have changed. The purpose of the slip rails is so that the gaps are not seen as entry points to the site – but the fences can quickly be removed by our ringers when nets are erected.

Secondly, Brian (welcome back!), Peter, John, Alan and David R scythed and raked the edges of the main paths in the eastern and northern areas of the site. The grass has grown amazingly quickly and thickly in the recent warm-ish and very wet period so the scything was hard work, particularly early on when the grass was still damp. However, the sun soon dried it out – and warmed us up! – and made life easier.

Lastly, Susan (welcome back too!) and Elizabeth, joined later by Barbara, tackled the area adjoining the northern boundary where we had planted around several hundred tree whips in early February. These had become overwhelmed by tall growth – notably fierce thistles. As scything was out of the question, we had to use secateurs and shears to remove the thistles and this was slow and difficult work. However, the team made huge headway in the course of the morning., leaving the whips – nearly all of which are thriving – with far more space and light.

Meanwhile, John and Brian nipped off to West Beckham Green to do a quick path clear while the rest of us tidied up.

Our next work party is at the Sustead sites on Election Day, Thursday July 4th – vote before or after the work party, please!

Peter Maingay

June 20th 2024


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