MCT Activities in January & February 2017

We had a good session with  Adam, Ellie Tom and Lauren (our Askam Bryan Volunteers) on 9th Jan.  We managed to improve tree architecture for some birch trees while coppicing hazels and trimming roses to give the birches more space and light to grow.  We also spread 6 bags of 20-mm pea gravel at the south end of the rear path, which had become very muddy and slippery after recent heavy rainfall.  You can see their efforts and the progress of our Snowdrops on our Facebook page.

On 27th Jan we decided to move access to the composting area so that it was no longer via a slippery slope.  As the photo shows Lauren, Tom, Ellie and Adam extended the dead hedge to define the route, which is now much safer.

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As well as spotting the first snow drops flowering on Feb 2, we noted that our recently installed leaf-mould container seemed to be functioning well.

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It was nice and warm for our Askham Bryan volunteers on Thursday19th.  They worked with Mike and Malcolm  removing some dead wood and excessively competitive growth from the north end of the west bund and collected up more fallen leaves for the leaf-mould container.  That enabled them to add pea gravel to that end of the rear path where it had been getting muddy and a bit slippery.

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On Jan 12th our Askham Bryan volunteers were back, and helped Mike & Malcolm erect a more permanent storage area (posts and green PVC-coated mesh) for preparation of useful leaf mould. It allows free air entry and has a loose cover to stop it getting too wet at times.  Ellie and Mike spotted another fascinating centipede lurking under the old storage bags.

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Adam, Ellie, Tom and Lauren were back on Mayfields on 5th Jan, working with Mike and Malcolm trimming over-grown roses (some with much dead wood!), hazels and guelder rose beside the path.  As you can see we were distracted by 4 hungry/optimistic robins, so Mike’s heading off to catch one for a photo (you can see the other 3 on our Facebook page).

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You can also see shots of some interesting soil fauna on our Facebook page.

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MCT Activities in November & December

A big thank you to all our volunteers for all their hard work over 2016 and especially to our helpers from Askham Bryan who have made such a difference to the site over recent months.

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It was great to have Dave Moore back at our Sunday volunteer session on Mayfields on December 4. Dave was able to advise MCT on the safest way to use a new Brushcutter on loan from a Trustee (upper photo).  Dave and Tom compared its performance with that of a Grass Trimmer (lower photo). We were impressed by the Brushcutter’s efficiency when used in the strimmer mode behind Goodwood Grove houses.

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On December 1st our volunteers from Askham Bryan did an excellent job, mowing the meadow at 6 cm ready for winter use, and clearing brambles etc. and strimming the grass behind the houses along the southern half of Hobmoor Terrace.

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Top photo shows Ellie, Tom, Lauren and Adam after clearing brambles growing through a local resident’s fence and the lower one the cut grass at the Nelsons Lane end.

A few more photos (thanks Adam!) of our Askham Bryan Volunteers (Ellie, Adam, Lauren and Tom) working on improving Foxglove Corner at the N.W. corner of the site we manage.  One shot though shows a fascinating root growth pattern on one of the brambles at the site.
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11-11-20163We had a good full-day sessions on November 3rd and 10th, helped by out students from Askham Bryan as well as Malcolm and Mike. We hope to have a session on Sunday 13th November too and volunteers would be welcome to come and help finish getting the meadow ready for winter use if they turn up at about 2 O’clock (weather permitting!). Photos below show the current state of play after Thursday’s session, and some of the soil fauna we try to protect. We always take care to save frogs on the site.

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MCT Activities in September & October 2016

We have had more very helpful volunteer sessions on Thursdays and Sundays, with 3 Askham Bryan students on work placements with MCT (Ellie Umpleby, Lauren Dodd and Thomas Goodridge) and Adam Cousins and Mike Ridealgh. They did a first class job planting out dozens of Foxglove and Red Campion plants that they had potted on earlier in the year and in pruning willows overhanging the path.  You can see a lot more on our Facebook page.  At this time of year we also move lost of leaves from the path and trim the meadow ready for winter.

The Mayfields Community Trust AGM was held at 7 pm at the Marriott Hotel on the Tadcaster Road on Wednesday 12.10.2016. It ends with a half-hour video diary film showing our volunteers’ work over the past 12 months that was well received by the audience.

We had an excellent volunteer session on Thursday, with 3 Askham Bryan students on work placements with MCT (Ellie Umpleby, Lauren Dodd and Thomas Goodridge) and Adam Cousins. They did a first class job a.m. pricking out and potting on Foxglove and Red Campion seedlings, and in the afternoon thinning an overgrown Willow, Hazels and Field Maples near the gate.  Our Sunday session on Oct. 2nd moved to the afternoon when it’s a bit warmer and grass is drier.  Pam as ever caught Margret, Lesley and Malcolm trimming another section of the meadow.

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Afternoon of 22nd September was exciting, with delivery of the MCT tool store from Asgard.  Thanks for the photo Pam.  We should soon have pictures of it up on the site too.  Meanwhile you can see it in a mini-video on our Facebook page.  Here’s another Pam photo, this time of rose hips. We manage our pruning to leave as many as possible as a source of food (not just because they are lovely to look at).

   

We were delighted to welcome Ellie and Lauren, 2 new Askham Bryan volunteers, to our Thursday session on 22nd.  We’re always on the look out for new volunteers, but also, when working on site, for easily hurt wildlife  – sometimes we have to move little frogs for their own safety.  Adam caught this one on camera.

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Mike, Adam and Malcolm improved conditions for a couple of the best Scots Pines on the site adjacent to the Oaks below on Thursday by trimming more hazels and a couple of very leggy birches.  Mike took the opportunity to photograph some of the Fauna in the vicinity – you can see more on the Mayfields Community Trust Facebook page.

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A Green Shield Bug on Mayfields North, 08/09/2016.

There was a short MCT volunteer session on Sunday morning, 4th September, while the rain was minimal.  Four MCT volunteers worked behind west bund (between the path and Goodwood Grove gardens) to reduce Hazel and Guelder Rose competition for 2 oaks we wish to maintain as attractive trees over the longer term.

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Later we incinerated treated and dried Japanese Knotweed that we have been eradicating from the area adjacent to the MCT-managed site for CYC.

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We also incinerated the Himalayan balsam also removed from the site.

MCT Activities in July & August

Our Volunteers were very busy in the gate area over the last two weeks of August, removing another 2 potential problem trees, another Field Maple and an Alder.  As you can see from the photo the alder had a  single stem taller than the adjacent house and had started to lean.  The lanky unsightly growth pattern was a consequence of excessive competition and neglect in earlier years.  Removal has now improved growth conditions for adjacent oaks… We’re lucky that Dave Moore (below), an MCT Trustee and volunteer, is an experienced arborist excellent at this type of work.

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Under the terms of our license this type of work has to be done from the ground using pole saws to reduce the canopy weight prior to felling.

Our volunteers incinerated more treated and dried Japanese Knotweed on the 17th and felled one of the excessive number of large Field Maples that was a potential danger to an adjacent house by the gate on 18th August.

MCT is committed to community involvement and community activities.  Therefore the Chair, Margaret Silcock, loaned the MCT Gazebo (funded by the Dringhouses & Woodthorpe Ward Committee) to the neighbouring Woodthorpe Community Group for their Fun Day of August 13th.  She purchased 2  super teddy bears to run a “Name a Teddy” competition and sold tickets on the MCT display end of the stand on the day.  Money raised went to the St Leonard’s Hospice.

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We’ve been busy in the first half of August, strimming/mowing beside Nelsons Lane and the main path, thinning oversized vegetation near the gate area, crushing over-sized pebbles/gravel on the path edge to improve the size distribution and laying a concrete base for the Tool store on the site funded by the Dringhouses & Woodthorpe ward Committee.  Our volunteers finished the base on 15th August having used 39 bags of concrete in total, so the storage shed has now been ordered.

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We have also been helping CYC eradicate the Japanese Knotweed patches on the adjacent woodland going towards Little Hob Moor.  More than 160 membership application leaflets have been picked up from the box on the noticeboard by the gate, but so far this has only resulted in 3 new MCT members.  Still never mind – every £5 is put to good use in helping maintain and improve the Mayfields Public Open Space.

The impact of the prolonged dry period on the grasses on the site has meant that we had to start trimming some areas earlier than usual in the year.  We try to skirt around residual patches of deeper-rooted wild flowers still in bloom.

Towards the end of July we received a grant from the Dringhouses & Woodthorpe Ward committee of CYC towards installation of a tool store behind the west bund.  In hopeful anticipation we removed a patch of overgrown Pyracantha a few months ago before the nesting season.  Adam and Malcolm dug out the roots on 28th July and levelled a marked out area for  installation of a concrete base sometime over the next 2 weeks.  The store will be smallish at 7 ft by 3.5 ft, but more than adequate and  should be unobtrusive once finished.

Seven turned out for the MCT Friday evening volunteer session at 7 on July 22nd, so we got a lot done, both near the gate and at the bluebell dell end of the site.  It was a very pleasant sunny evening as Pam’s photo of 2 of our volunteers shows.

Adam and Malcolm trimmed overgrown shrubs and hazel near the gate and in the woodland beside the playground on 21st July.  Partly this was for safety reasons and partly to improve conditions for trees such as some Alders that were being overcrowded.  We always check for nests first though at this time of year.

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A quick reminder that our summer volunteer sessions start at 7 in the evening on Fridays.  The next will be on July 22nd. Quite a bit of mowing of path verges needed between showers at this time of year; we also reduce grass competition around newly planted trees and shrubs for the first year or two.

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On Friday June 15th, 2016, Louise, Lesley, Harriet, Paul and Malcolm reduced an overgrown Hazel and Guelder Rose that were at risk of Damaging Scots Pine and Oak trees that were growing too close by.  The long hazel poles were woven into the dead hedge the following Sunday morning.  You can see a wee video of their efforts on the Mayfields Community Trust Facebook page.

We have succeeded in eradicating Japanese Knot weed from the area that MCT manages officially.  MCT volunteers are now attempting to do the same on the woodland area between our site and Little Hob Moor for the City of York Council.  Behind the north end of Goodwood Grove there are some quite substantial patches, with smaller patches elsewhere.  They will be sprayed 3 to 4 times at intervals and dead material will be incinerated.  We will continue monitoring for at least 3 years.

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and the day after first treatment in dry weather.

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It was a pleasure on 4th July 2016 to see the Ox-eye daisies that MCT raised from seeds to produce plug plants to enhance the meadow starting to flower.  These were planted by Margaret Silcock, the MCT Chair, and Lesley Abbott at an earlier volunteering session.  They should soon spread if we keep reducing the dominant grasses.

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MCT Activities in May and June

Now we have longer summer evenings in June & July we thought we’d try evening volunteer sessions from 7.00 on Fridays.  The next session will be on July 8th.  Do come and join us for an hour if you’d like to help keep Mayfields North beautiful and in tip-top condition.

We had useful volunteer sessions on Thursday 16th and Friday 17th June this week. Dave, Adam and Malcolm thinned several overgrown willows on Thursday and Pam, Louise, Margaret, Lesley and Malcolm helped by composting residual off-cuts on Friday, in spite of the light drizzle.  As Pam’s photo shows it  didn’t dampen their enthusiasm.

After  nearly 3 years of T.L.C. from MCT volunteers we’re pleased to report that the Yellow Rattle (originally only 3 wee plants!) is now starting to spread east of the main path.  This should eventually help to reduce the amount of grass trimming required.

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Yellow Rattle June 16-2016

The great thing about June is that more and more wild flowers start to appear on Mayfields North.  Our current favourites are the Foxgloves beside the path at the Little Hob Moor end of the west bund.  MCT raised these from seed and Ben helped us plant them out as plug plants towards the end of last year.  The down side of June is that we have to trim a lot of grass.

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On 26th May Adam and Malcolm tested the new MCT Gazebo (in an adjacent garden) to see how easily it could be put up by 2 people.  It’s large but manageable (once you know what you’re doing).  Thanks to Louise for catching our efforts on camera and to the Dringhouses & Woodthorpe Ward Committee of CYC for financial support..

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Mowing is challenging just now.  The grass is growing very fast but we try to mow round wild-flowers as best we can.  On May 15th, Margaret mowed verges while Pam and Louise watered plug plants.  Malcolm selectively removed some of the nettles and ground elder from the English bluebell patch.  In the photo taken  at the end of the session Pam, Margaret and Louise take a short well-earned rest on one of the seats MCT installed while Angus tried to work out how to get a drink of water (supplied in his special bowl later!).  In the last 2 weeks of May we had several more mowing sessions on the main verges and along Nelsons Lane.

MCT is very grateful to Dave Meigh and his team from CYC for re-contouring the tarmac by the gate to minimize the risk of deep puddle formation.  They did an excellent job and, while there, fixed the gate latch which had been jamming recently on occasions.  Many thanks.

Lots of wild-flowers are starting to blossom on Mayfields now, including the first vetches, cowslips, still lots of primroses and bluebells, daisies and the first buttercup, as well as ragged robin.  However one of our favourite blossoms appears on the Midland hawthorn (below).  If you look up a bit the cherry blossom is lovely too.

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May day had reasonable weather (at least early on).  Our volunteers went out picking up litter and (sadly!) abandoned excrement from dogs on the grass verges.  That was greatly appreciated by the field work co-ordinator who was then able to put MCT’s new battery mower to good use.  We remove clippings to the compost heap as it helps lower soil fertility to the benefit of wild flowers.

One of the joys of May is we can start to see the  benefits of our having planted more than 1000 English bluebells over the past 2 years.  Pam Brown’s photos below were from the north end of the west bund (left) and from near the gate (right).

  

In the land adjacent to the area MCT manages there are still several clumps of alien Spanish bluebells.  If you read our Bluebell Wars page it explains the difference.  We still plan to remove these.

 

MCT Activities in March & April 2016

We had cool but pleasant weather on 24th April for our Volunteer session so  were able to do some mowing along path verges and start planting out some of the plug plants MCT has raised to improve the wild-flower meadow (you can see a video on our Facebook page).  With help from Margaret, Lesley, Louise, Paul, Richard and Malcolm we made  good progress.  The plants had to be watered in as the soil is finally starting to dry out a bit.

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It finally stopped raining on 14th April, giving us a chance to use the new Mountfield battery power on some of the path verges.  We’re grateful to the CYC Dringhouses & Woodthorpe Ward Committee for funding for the mower.

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A very useful photo from the MCT Chair, Margaret Silcock, that shows very clearly why MCT has been putting a lot of effort recently into getting the path pack to its former width.  We’d welcome inputs from any one who’d like to volunteer to help with this activity.

Our plug plants are doing well and are being hardened off.  We hope to plant them out at the next volunteer session on Sunday 24th April (from 10.30).  Photo below shows Ragged Robin, which we are hoping to establish on a wetter part of the site.  We also have many more Ox-eye Daisies to plant out.

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We did more path restoration at our Sunday Morning Volunteer session on 10th April. Lesley and Malcolm used 10 more bags of Cotswold chips to widen and improve the section of path with the last remaining substantial puddle.  Meanwhile Paul, Pam, and Louise cut up and composted yet more willow waste material.

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Fortunately it was dry in the morning on April 7th for Malcolm, Dave and Adam to use a tonne of Cotswold chips for path restoration.  They’ll soon weather to the more normal path colour.  Thanks to Pam Brown for the photo.

They also filled a wooden extension to the information board near Nelsons Lane.  This will later be fitted with a leaflet dispenser.

Dave Moore photographed a couple of interesting fungi on the site at the end of March. One we think is Armillaria mellea (Honey fungus), but we’d welcome information from anyone who can identify the other.

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Lesley, Paul, Louise, Pam and Margaret enjoyed a sunny period on Sunday April 3rd to do several more metres of path restoration close to the Little Hob Moor end, prior to adding more Cotswold chips (due the following Thursday).  They scraped away grass and mud overlapping the path that had been churned up by cyclists, and replaced some of the gravel after sieving.  Pam and Louise also cut up willow offcuts from the previous Thursday volunteers session.

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CYC  had to cut down a large (but sadly seriously diseased) willow in the 3rd week in March as it was a threat to an adjacent house.  Margaret Silcock (the MCT Chair) thought some of the offcuts would make useful and attractive seats near the information board.  Once treated with preservative and pegged in place so they couldn’t easily be tipped over they provided a comfortable place to sit with a view through the trees towards the meadow.

An MCT volunteer managed to finish breaking up and sieving the soil/gravel mix  near the path junction on Friday March 25th (photo below showed an earlier stage). He  returned the gravel and added 3 more bags of gravel.  This should improve both drainage and appearance at that corner of the site.

It was a lovely morning on 20th March for restoring a section of path back to its original route. Pam, Lesley, Louise and Malcolm relocated the boundary logs by the info. board back to the original path boundary and then scraped away the soil and grass that had encroached about a meter over the path. Stones were recovered from this material by sieving and returned and 3 more bags of gravel added. A bit more may be needed but we hope you’ll find it more attractive and safer already. Edging logs can now be pegged in place much more securely.

Problems experienced when pegging down the log edging made us suspect that the path near the information board by Little Hob Moor probably had migrated westwards by about 2 feet. Tests (with a garden fork!) an March 17th showed this was indeed the case.

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As the above photo shows we scraped away the mud and grass that had encroached on the west side of the path.  We also dug over compacted soil on the east side, where we then planted 10 young hazels to create a low hedge to delineate and restore the original path boundary. We’ll shortly be adding more gravel to resurface the exposed part of the original path after first sifting out more of the fine soil particles at our next Sunday volunteer session.

At an extra session on Monday 14th March Adam and Malcolm spent a few hours improving the access area to the rear path by adding gravel, pegging down log edges to stabilize them and planting an extra holly.  It’s nice to see the grass starting to recover from the damage done over winter by bike wheels.

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Dave, Adam and Malcolm cut up a spare recycled plastic pallet to convert it to 2 reinforcing strips on 10th March.  These were added to an earlier pair on a particularly boggy section of the rear path, and packed with clay and a layer of gravel.  It’s now much safer and easier to cross.

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They also planted a few extra native primrose plants at the north west corner of the site in dappled shade.  The ones planted there last year have been flowering constantly since early November last year.

On March 6th we decided to do a litter-pick on Mayfields and the adjacent part of little Hob Moor as part of the City of York Council’s clean up for the Queen’s 90th birthday.  Louise, Malcolm and Jean collected 6 bags of litter for proper disposal.

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Spring this year was heralded by the first snow on Mayfields after the very wet but Mild winter!  The soils are still very wet and often slippery, which has prompted MCT to do more work on trying to create safer paths with mini-dead-hedge boundaries.  These protect areas where we are trying to improve grass and wild-flower growth to benefit both pollinators and the landscape by encouraging cyclists and walkers to stick to paths when it’s very wet.  Pam as ever was out early enough to catch the early March snow on camera.

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Make, Dave and Adam after extending the mini-dead hedge on March 3rd, 2016

MCT Activities in January & February 2016

At our last Sunday session on Feb. 28th, six MCT volunteers created a new section of mini dead hedge to make the site safer and reduce trampling on the primroses and emerging English bluebells.  We hope you like it.

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Cyclists have made a real mess of the grass near the MCT information board near Little Hob Moor by taking short cuts to the rear path.  We have put in log barriers to protect the grass while we try to restore it and to guide them to a narrower path by creating an obvious junction as shown below.  The problem’s been bad this year because of the prolonged wet periods.  Applying 12 bags of gravel has made the area less slippery for the time being, so safer for walkers.

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After a meeting of a group of Trustees and Volunteers on Valentine’s day we decided where to install the second bench funded by the Dringhouses & Woodthorpe Ward Committee.  Pam’s photo (below) shows Malcolm, Paul and Adam hard at work digging out half a metre depth of soil to house the concreted-in bench legs.  Meanwhile Jacqui, Lee, Louise and Lesley were working on the dead hedge at the north end of the site before coming to help with the installation.  We were delighted to welcome Lee to our volunteer session.  You can see a short video of how the installation is done on our Facebook page.

  

Sally Flint, one of the MCT Trustees, suggested it would be really nice to have a similar bench at the north end of the site near the notice board at the Little Hob Moor end.  It’s an excellent idea as it would provide a beautiful longer-distance view of the beautiful wooded and grassland landscape MCT is carefully developing.

The first bench was installed by Adam, Dave, Mike and Malcolm on February 11th on a beautifully sunny day.  We hope you’ll like it and some site users will find it useful at times.  We’ve already had a few very nice comments from passers-by (even before the Postcrete was dry!).  Thanks to Louise for the photo and carrying the necessary water.  You can see more photos of the installation process on the Mayfields Community Trust Facebook page,

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It’s nice as spring approaches to start getting ready for the new season.  Over the past few days MCT took delivery of a new 48-volt battery mower with spare battery, kindly funded by the Dringhouses & Woodthorpe Ward Committee and a donation from Nadine Dixon.  The Ward Committee are also funding two benches that arrived today too.  We’ll soon be digging the holes to set them in concrete, after adding metal rods at the base for added security.  They’ll be located to look over the wild flower meadow.

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Photos below show the MCT Sunday volunteer activity worked well.  Pam Brown caught Lesley, Paul, Louise and Malcolm on camera at a very early stage by marker posts behind the old wood pile  She also helped with shifting lots of wood.  The second photo was at 16.30, so it was a longish day but we wanted it to be safe and quite neat before we left.  We’ll soon be planting in front of it (small shrubs and wild flowers).

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Our regular Sunday morning volunteer sessions start up again on 7th February at 10.30.  We plan to extend the dead hedge at the north end of the west bund, so do come and help if you’d like to and have an hour or so to spare.

High wind on February 1st conveniently reduced the height of a dead tree on the edge of the site managed by MCT.  The local tree warden, Ian Tomlinson, and the MCT field work co-ordinator had been watching the tree for several months, but it was left standing as an invertebrate habitat much loved by local woodpeckers.  As the top fell in the night it was “caught” by an adjacent live willow, so it obligingly slid safely on to one of Ian’s habitat wood piles.

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An alternative way of providing nesting habitats is the creation of dead-hedges.  Mike, Dave, Adam and Malcolm started creating a south-facing dead hedge on 28th January from waste materials on the site.  The hedge will also partially screen off the composting area.

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We took advantage of the mild weather on 27th Jan to put up a couple more insect hotels on the site.  One is south facing and the other east facing so it will be interesting to compare occupancy later this year.

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While checking distances on Jan 26th for MCT’s submission to Buglife, the fieldwork co-ordinator noticed that our snowdrops beside the path near Little Hob Moor (below left) are coming on well, but spotted a small clump doing even better behind the east bund (below right).

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The observant  regular site users may have noticed that on Thursday 21st Jan a lot of the ivy was removed by volunteers from two willows just beyond the north end of the west bund.  This was necessary to assess tree health (it revealed bracket fungi on one) before trimming some of the branches shading young trees at the end of the bund that we want to grow on.  MCT is making sure that a wide range of tree ages and types is being maintained on the site.

Louise and Pam braved the cold on Sunday morning (17th Jan) to count over 700 trees looked after by MCT just on the west bund.  There must be well,over 2 thousand on the site!  They also did litter picking near the playground then and on the 24th.  It does seem that the litter bin in the playground isn’t big enough as it couldn’t accommodate the 11 empty beer bottles they found nearby.

On 14th January 2016 four of our volunteers  moved the Yew tree by the gate back a couple of feet to give it more room to grow in future years in response to a useful suggestion from Harvey Lowson, the CYC tree expert.  As it does we’ll reduce the Elder behind it.  The move involved digging out a couple of stubborn old tree roots first (see below).  It was cold with flurries of snow, but the soil was still relatively appreciably warmer and not too wet, so it should be fine.

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A break in the weather on the morning of Sunday 10th January allowed Louise, Pam and Malcolm to spend an hour gathering up litter and disposing of it properly.  Cans and bottles in (and round) the playground included a broken vodka bottle that needed careful collection for obvious reasons.  Almost as anti-social was the pile of very thorny  garden prunings from a Pyracantha dumped beside the rear path; we cut them up, bagged them (as below) and put the material on the compost heap.

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It was really encouraging to see buds starting to open on the snowdrops that our volunteers planted last Autumn beside the path at the Little Hob Moor end.  We spotted several when clearing twiggy litter off the path on January 3rd.  Mind you, they need a bit more time to catch up with those on our New Year card!

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