We’ve been busy with our gang of volunteers over the last few Wednesdays at various points around the reserve. It’s been hard work at times, with weather conditions often proving a challenge, but on one occasion gracing us with glorious sunshine.
We started our tree clearing work in an area of woodland at Levenmouth that was once an excellent example of lowland heathland habitat. Over the last 30 to 50 years, birch trees have encroached and transformed the area of land, out-competing heather and blaeberry that typically dominate this habitat, and make it excellent for bumblebees, as well as the lovely Green Hairstreak butterfly.
When the tree clearance work was started here two years ago we were delighted when George Guthrie recorded this charismatic butterfly that same year along a strip of blaeberry on the fringe of the area we had been working on.
Our next area to tackle this month was at Burleigh Sands. Willow trees growing around the small ponds that were once the course of the North Quiech have become so big that the ponds are now constantly shaded. We were keen to open them up and allow more sunlight in to these lovely pond habitats. With more sunlight, photosynthesis will be more efficient and allow a richer diversity of aquatic vegetation to grow, consequently encouraging species of damselfly and other aquatic invertebrates to thrive. Our insect surveyors that have been monitoring damselflies here for over 7 years will be delighted at the improvements being made.
The volunteers have enjoyed a couple of Wednesdays up at Burleigh burning the willow, and as you walk past the area we’ve been working on, you will certainly notice how much more open the ponds are beginning to appear.
Another couple of weeks at Burleigh before it’ll be time to move on to other areas of willow encroachment at Levenmouth, before hopefully getting to work on an area of willow at Mary’s Knowe, which has been out-competing Holy grass for many years. Look out for us over the winter with our chainsaws and bonfires, and apologies for any disturbance caused.