Somerset Wildlife Trust

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October: Residentials, Ponies and Scrub Clearing

 15th Nov 2018

Hello everyone, thanks for coming back and reading this month’s instalment. Can’t believe another month has flown by, and what a fun month it’s been! The start of October saw me doing the first of two 5-day training residentials with the rest of the Wildpaths trainees from the South West. I’m very happy to say that they are all very nice and it was a joy to meet them and Rachel ‘Rabbit’ Janes who is the project co-ordinator for Wildpaths 2018.

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The Wildpaths Trainees, 2018. From left, Emily Eel, Claire Caterpillar, Steve Snail (Me), Dan Dormouse, John Jay, Lisa Lizard, Nick Newt, Millie Millipede, Scott Snake, Katie Kite, Matt Muntjac and Adam Ant. (Photo credit: Rachel Janes, DWT)


I bet you’re wondering about the animal names… that was a due to a forest school icebreaker where we had to come up with some native animal names that begin with the first letter of our names. (I was under pressure and instantly regretted shouting the first thing that came to mind ‘Snail’!). Ah well, I’ll make it work! The residential was mostly classroom work focusing on completing the first batch of our AQA modules.
The following Saturday I popped along to our Hallow Marsh reserve in Farrington Gurney to help the grazier take off the four Exmoor ponies that had been grazing it over the summer. The reserve will be left empty now till after the next hay cut in mid-July. This will allow for all the lovely wildflowers to delight us with their beautiful floral show next spring/summer. If you haven’t been to a hay meadow in the summer, I highly recommend it. Check out the reserves section of our website to find your nearest one.


The Exmoor ponies on Hallow Marsh; ponies are great for grazing meadows to a low sward height. 


A big event for October was that I lead the West Mendips Volunteer group. This was my first solo lead of a volunteer group, it was great fun and went (thankfully) off without a hitch! The group were helping us to clear some scrub and hawthorn shrubs at Middledown. Middledown is an area of biodiverse limestone grassland. Keeping on top of the scrub by clearing it will provide space for the grass to advance.


The rest of the month was very much a scrub clearing month which is a big task we carry out every autumn/winter. Clearing fence lines so they can be replaced as well as scrub blocks on our reserves. There was a couple of little treats at the end of October… firstly I went out with the Biodiversity Officer for Aggregates Industries to do a dormouse survey… and saw my first dormouse up close! One of the many residential dormice at Cheddar Wood; they are so cute!

The second treat to top the month off, I did some RMS Mapping of Harridge Wood.

RMS mapping is essentially marking on a digital map all of a reserve’s infrastructure, what’s great about doing this is I got to bring my dog Obi with me. It was great to have him at work again (and he had a blast too)! Obi, my dog!

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Dormouse, Exmoor Ponies & Obi my Dog 


That’s all for this month folks, thanks for reading and do check back next month to see what November has to offer!


All the best, Steve.