One team went to mow, went to mow a meadow…

As you might have seen from our social media pages, we’ve hit mowing season! We’ve had to be a bit sporadic with it lately, though, because while we can easily cut vegetation during wetter weather, the bailer has a tendancy to throw a bit of a hissy fit during the rain and doesn’t produce particularly nice or easy to transport bails. But there have been enough nice days to stay on track, in no small part thanks to our volunteers!

We began mowing Kirkgate’s Pollinator Park this Wednesday, after finishing an area along the old railway line (pictured above) and completing a section by the fishery over the last few weeks. But our task is far from over! Throughout autumn and winter we will be mowing much larger areas such as the Burleigh meadow, and wetter places like Carsehall Bog (this will be done with the help of contractors, and low impact machines like the Softrak). It’s all done with the same goal in mind – to keep the nutrients levels down, stalling succession and allowing for a higher diversity of plantlife.

The tricky thing with blogs is that you can accidentally find yourself repeating entire explainations when a simple link and click will do. So, in true Blue Peter fashion, if you would like to learn more in depth on meadow meanagement, here’s one I made earlier!

We’ve also been taking advantage of our neighbours over at RSPB Loch Leven, by getting the chance to swap machines and have a play about get some other management tasks completed. They’ve gotten some good use out of our Softrak across the more sensitive site areas, and we borrowed their seed collector to (no need to guess here) collect seeds. It’s a nifty little machine we can hitch onto the Polaris with brushes on the underside, the height of which we can alter depending on the vegetation growth. These rotate super fast to collect seeds which are then held in the container at the back. We were aiming mostly for yellow rattle seeds from pollinator park (before we mowed it), and the collector certainly didn’t disappoint!

We are collecting and mowing late enough into the season that plenty of yellow rattle seeds will have naturally dispersed, helping to feed and continue our already established meadows for next year. But it wasn’t quite all gone, leaving plenty enough for us to collect and later spread across some new areas on the reserve. We’re particularly keen to do some trial patches along some of the less diverse stretches of the Heritage Trail – providing patches of pollinator friendly habitat and making for a bit of a nicer visitor experience than grasses, thistles and nettles.We don’t want to replace all of this though, as variety is best and plenty of species do make use of these plants – such as goldfinches feeding on thistle seeds and various moth and butterfly species laying their eggs on nettles.

Strimming patches along the trail for seeding

Speaking of feeding on things, bramble season has well and truly hit Kinross! Many species will be enjoying juicy blackberries at this time of year, humans included, and I can’t wait to get out for a bit of responsible foraging this weekend. I just need to decide what will they be turned into – crumbles, pies, jam, or maybe an infused beverage or two…

About Bethia Pearson

I am a practical conservation placement based at Loch Leven NNR. I am a keen naturalist with a passion for encouraging responsible outdoor access and increasing inclusivity and diversity across the sector.
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