By Alex Ainge
Despite the changeable weather, my amazing volunteers, Cathy and Phil and I met up to crack on with clearing the raised beds of weeds.
Our conversations covered mortgages, the Olympics and pigeon nests as we set to the task in hand. The brambles proved challenging, but we soon cleared an area big enough to take one of our two raised bed structures. Luckily, due to Covid, the raised beds have been delayed, which means we have just enough time to prepare the area. A fellow allotmenteer volunteered to do some more clearing on his next visit to the site-thanks in advance Russell (no pressure!).
We were joined by our wildlife visitors, who were eager to take the worms from our newly dug bed.
First, the blackbird who proved to us that there is no such thing as a beak fit for one worm! I suspect this bird is feeding chicks. It’s not too late in the season for a brood, as chicks have been found in nests well into August. Blackbirds build nests quite low down in trees, shrubs and climbers. Occasionally they will build a nest on the ground.
Then a juvenile robin joined in. Note the speckled plumage as this robin has yet to moult into a robin “redbreast”.
Cathy was keen to spot the slow worm that I saw last time, so we went up to the pile of branches and I got ready with the camera. She peeled back the weed membrane but there was no slow worm to be seen. Instead it was replaced by a red ant’s nest. We backed away as the red ant workers can attack if disturbed and their sting is not very pleasant! They are often referred to as “Fire ants” and love eating fleas, ticks, mosquito eggs and larvae.
Finally we were able to put a weed membrane over our efforts as we wait for the raised beds to be delivered.
Would you like to help out at the West Wittering Tree nursery? Enthusiasm is more important than experience. All equipment is supplied. Go to our Volunteer page to sign up.