Firsts of the year
After the wind blows
On Tuesday, following the visit of that stormy pair Eunice and Franklin, the WoodChips went out in two parties of hard-hatted volunteers to deal with fallen and damaged trees in Banstead Wood.
One team cleared some dangerous trees and branches affecting the path leading past the Wardrobe, while the other group dealt with three trees blocking one of the other main paths. Pics provided by Richard Carter. There are other damaged trees that require our attention, which will be dealt with in due course. Let's hope there won't be more severe storms (Georgina, Gordon,?) to batter the woodland.
Cleared before the flood
In late summer, the WoodChips carried out the first major clearance of overgrown water plants in the Lagoon. These were mainly Hornwort and Bulrush, which were invading the space of less-vigorous species. Hornwort is an oxygenating plant useful for wildlife, which also helps to check Duckweed. But you can have too much of a good thing, especially with pond plants. From just 50 tiny clumps scattered in the water in April 2019, our Hornwort had grown to a thick mass covering most of the Lagoon surface from top to bottom.
Reaching higher than the volunteers, the Bulrush did its best to match this achievement with a two-pronged attack, extending its fleshy roots rapidly underwater while scattering fluffy seeds in the wind.
There was good weather for the clearance, as the water had dropped to a safe level following the previous fine period. Unlike now, with the recent heavy rain covering the access path and substantially increasing the depth of the pool (pics below).
With this sort of growth rate, it looks like we'll be revisiting this task in future years. It's also good practice for similar work that's needed in Banstead Woods pond. And, thanks to help from the Downlands Trust, our volunteers now have suitable protective clothing (waterproof gloves and waders) for the task.
First blooms of Summer
The Lagoon and its meadow are once again bursting into life, with the beginnings of the succession flowering that was so spectacular last year. This includes Kidney Vetch, the food plant of the Small Blue, and this week we observed no fewer than seven of these tiny butterflies around the Lagoon.
Our wildflower plantings are increasingly colonising the Lagoon banks, and even Cut-leaved Germander is to be found away from its first site, despite being partially eroded by water from the new additional pipe drain from Outwood Lane.
Although the pool water level is low in the present dry conditions, the recent pond plant matting is starting to grow and Broad-Bodied Chasers and a mass of Damselflies are swarming over the water surface. Some of the established plants like the Bulrushes have become a little too successful and the time is coming when some of the growth will have to be cut back. Here's hoping it's a warm day for a paddle!
More planting in the Lagoon
First tasks of 2021
Life is returning to the Lagoon, with a larger amount of frogspawn than last year, in more places along its banks. Yesterday three Mallards were dabbling in the pool, enjoying the brief bits of sunshine despite the cold wind. Visitors from the Banstead Woods pond, perhaps?
They kept on mooning: were they trying to tell me something?
Feels like –8°