The working morning on Saturday 8th February was very productive. We planted 15 rowan trees (supplied by RBC) and one ash tree in Gibson Field, near the railway embankment. The hazel in Gibson Field was coppiced and the blackthorn near the outdoor gym was pruned. The bird boxes were checked, and Eric spotted the kingfisher by the brook.
We have had the trees for a few weeks now, but the ground has been too soggy to plant them. We only hope the rain that came with storm Ciara on Sunday 9th February does not hinder their growth too much. They had to be planted as they were beginning to develop buds.
There are several areas in the park which we coppice. Coppicing is a traditional method of managing woodland. The idea is to cut back the hazel growth every two of three years so that trees grow outwards, rather than upwards. The natural tendency of the hazel is to grow upwards but this causes a thick canopy like area which allows no light in. If it is coppiced the base of the tree will expand and cover a greater ground area. The overall effect we want to create is a mixture of levels, with some trees coppiced and others left on a rotational basis. This is much better for wild life.
Blackthorn grows vigorously and is quite vicious if you bump into it by accident. It is important to keep it well back from pathways, particularly in the area of the outdoor gym. It was cut back strongly on the working morning, but in a few weeks will probably need doing again.
You may have noticed the strong wooden structure along from the shrubbery area. This has been built to accommodate the limestone mix that will be used to repair paths in the future.
We always try to quantify how many birds pass through the park in the early months of the year. This year we have seen very few migrants. No siskins have been spotted, and only a few field fare and red wing. This is probably because the winter has been relatively mild and the birds have been able to ‘stay put’ so to speak and not journey far for food. Last year we think nearly all the bird boxes were used by small birds like great tits, but cannot quantify the actual number as there was no time/opportunity to check each nest box individually in the autumn last year.
The tree cut down in St Mary’s churchyard in mid-February was chipped up and used to re-create the footpaths in the SW corner of Gibson Field. In some places the wood chips are 20 cm deep in others only 5 cm. It is impressive that so much foot path was restored with one (substantial) tree.
If you want to find out more about the Friends of Meadow Park visit the village website (www.east-leake.co.uk) and look under ‘organisations’. Pick up an application form from Mel’s shop or the parish Office. We also have a Facebook page.
Membership per year costs £3 for an individual or £5 for a household.