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1st December 2011: At 09.45, I stood at the river side of the orchid field gate, gazing into the south end of the middle wood. It was cold, and I was waiting for the working party to arrive. Five or six willow tree trunks are marked with red dots, denoting that they would be felled later today. I heard rustling and movement seconds before the sleek, muscular shape of a young muntjac deer emerged from between the trees. This doe was the epitome of sheer pent-up animal power as it sped, terrified, into the open. The work-party made its way noisily through the wood, carrying the various items of equipment it would need to complete the day’s work schedule. The muntjac passed so close to me, in a desperate attempt to escape the hullabaloo, that I could have jumped on top of it.
I heard the chatting and calling of the work party before I could see the individuals walking through the tree line. As well as their own personal rucksacks containing food, drink and spare clothes, they carried the Trust’s large yellow lopping saw, bow saws and long-handled secateurs.
Today’s tasks are to fit twenty bird boxes seven feet up on various tree trunks, fell the trees marked with the red dots, cut the trunks and branches to manageable lengths with a chain saw, and stack them in tidy piles. The wood piles will provide homes for small mammals and insects, until they rot down. The work is to be carried by fifteen of us, varying in ages from late teens up to, I guess, early seventies.
It is a very pleasant experience working with people who genuinely have an interest in and a love of nature, who are willing to give their time freely, benefiting the marsh, in particular, and the environment in general. It really is an experience not to be missed. Furthermore, it is a very healthy social as well as work activity. There is no pressure during these work-days; it’s an easy-going atmosphere. People work as fast as they are able, or as slow as they wish. It doesn’t matter whether you carry one branch or a large arm full to the wood stacks. There is plenty of time to chat. So if there are people out in the blogosphere who would like to spice-up their leisure time, meet interesting people and learn about the nature in their area, then volunteering with your local Wildlife Trust might be the way to go.
We finished the workday by mid-afternoon.