An impressive number of MWHG volunteers turned up on Thursday 13th and Friday 14th December to clear brambles and litter from one corner of the Bracklesham Barn field to open up access to the ditch and culverts. The weather was very kind to us - sunshine and big blue skies on both days! We even had to remove a few layer of clothing!
The ditch on this south-western corner of the site had got very overgrown and inaccessible, with a large willow growing right next to the culverts, impeding the flow of water. East Wittering and Bracklesham Parish Council had contractors in to clear the banks of the ditch to access it for essential flood management work, but this corner of the ditch was not accessible to machinery and so the intrepid MWHG volunteers stepped in. Using shears, loppers, and saws, and powered by cake, the volunteers worked hard over the two days to finish this work. The Parish Council will be getting contractors in to clear the willow.
Brambles, wild areas and mature trees are important for wildlife and so whilst the area may look rather bare after being cleared, there are plans to plant new native trees and create a wildflower area along this bank once the ditch management work is complete.
A huge amount of litter and fly-tipped material was cleared during the process and we ended the session on Friday by doing a quick litter pick around other areas of the site. A total of 6 large rubbish bags were filled on the Friday alone. Alongside the usual plastic and glass bottles and drinks cans, the volunteers found all manner of 'treasures' hidden in the brambles including an old mop, several plastic plant pots, a large plastic water container, and a sheet of wire netting all of which could be hazardous to wildlife and pets.
We'll be back on Friday 21st January to move some of the huge quantity of cut material to the existing 'dead hedge' on the other side of the park.
A 'dead hedge' is a pile of cut plant material arranged in linear fashion that gradually breaks down over time. Dead hedges provide valuable habitat for wildlife in a number of ways. Many beetles and other invertebrates make their homes amongst dead plant material - ever turned over a log and found it covered in woodlice? Woodlice are detritovores - animals whose diet is primarily composed of decaying organic matter from either plants or animals. Detritivores are an extremely important component within ecosystems. The invertebrates in turn provide food for birds, small mammals (including hedgehogs), reptiles and amphibians, which may also use the dead hedge as shelter, a nesting or hibernation site, and a corridor to safely move from one habitat to another. An onsite dead hedge is also a more environmentally-friendly way of dealing with cut plant materials than either a bonfire or transporting it to another site for disposal.
See you on Friday?