Common Wood: part 13
It was a misty morning on 19 February, but that did not deter the Dartmoor Preservation Association conservation volunteers. Fourteen of us came on the workday at Common Wood, my common near Horndon on Dartmoor which we are managing for fritillary butterflies. Megan Lowe and Simon Phelps from Butterfly Conservation’s All the Moor Butterflies project also joined us.
We gathered at 10 o’clock at Hillbridge Farm and walked along the leat to Common Wood. We were working on the upper slope where we hope to attract Pearl Bordered and Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries. It would have been far too wet to have tackled the marsh in the bottom which is a potential site for Marsh Fritillaries.
We were to cut away brambles, hawthorn and gorse, leaving the bracken. The volunteers are so used to attacking bracken (much of their work is to clear Dartmoor’s antiquities) that it must be quite difficult for them to leave it at Common Wood, but it is needed to provide the right habitat for the butterflies.
It was hard work on the slippery slope with brambles getting twisted round our legs.
We dragged our cuttings down the slope to the windrow, a hedge made of the brash. It runs just above the leat.
Claude Williams did great work with the strimmer.
And here is Simon Phelps tackling a tough gorse bush.
We had coffee- and lunch-breaks, which were much improved by the range of homemade cakes offered by John and Elaine Viant.
By the end of the day we had certainly made a difference to the vegetation.
At around 3 pm we packed up our tools and headed back to Hillbridge for a sumptuous tea.
We shall be back again in October, but meanwhile the volunteers can feel satisfied that they have made Common Wood better for butterflies, and some of them will return in the summer to see how many we have here.