Land Manager's Diary: Read it here>

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Intense aromas of bluebells as we walked through the wood, occasionally changing to wild garlic with thoughts of garlic bread/pizza for dinner. Sunshine glinting off Morecambe Bay. Vibrant new green growth of leaves and stems. The sound of wrens, blackcap, and warblers as we followed animal tracks, the daytime visitors following the tracks of the nightime residents.

Where is this paradise...

At Friends of the Lake District’s land at Middle Bleansley near Broughton with the volunteers on Tuesday.

It felt like heaven until we saw the huge number of tree tubes we still had to remove... The tubes here are different to any others we have used and all need cutting off, it is a long job and the pile afterwards leaves us with the issue of what to do with them then. We keep offering them to anyone who may wish to reuse them. Work by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust into realistic alternatives to tree tubes is continuing as they pilot other types of tube as well as options for no tubes with alternative protection. One thing is clear, the days of vast number of plastic tree tubes are numbered and this is a big relief as long as other realistic alternatives that stop the trees being eaten can be found.

Whilst we were on site we were met by our skilled woodsman Pete who is helping us put up new Friends of the Lake District signage. He has been making cedar backing boards for the signs. This land was a bit of a challenge, getting a post knocker and crow bar upto the top on foot was a no show and reinforcements in the form of the quad bike were needed! We also met up with our grazier Robert. In a nice link with the past, he is the new tenant of Hazelhead Farm nearby, once a Lake District Farm Estates farm that we gifted to the National Trust in 1977 when the company was wrapped up.

Robert is willing to work with us to trial native cows in the woodland area to reduce the bracken and allow more heathland vegetation to grow back. We are intending to use GPS collars on the cows, otherwise known as ‘no fence’ technology which will allow them to be moved around the area but without the need for fences. The land we own gives us the ability to try out new things and see if they work, be it cow collars or different/no types of tree tube, and then practice what we preach, i.e. put our policies into practice ourselves and in turn learn from that experience to feed back into our policy thinking. For a campaigning organisation this is invaluable.

On Wednesday we had our second volunteer training day in our own Mike’s Wood near Staveley. Expert birder Mike Douglas was our trainer and with his help we identified chaffinch, garden and wood warblers, blackcap, goldcrest, red kite, pied flycatcher, woodpecker, linnet and song thrush. The best time to hear birds is the early mornings from mid-April until mid-June.

Last week we identified lichens by their resemblance to food, e.g. wine gums and jam tarts! This week it was through “it sounds like… a babbling brook… teacher teacher…like a machine gun…pink pink… or like falling down the stairs”! We learnt which birds live in trees and which are ground nesting and sadly most small birds only live a couple of years.

The volunteers will now head out to another of our properties to hone their skills before the birds stop singing by mid-June. We can’t wait to hear the results.

We still have space on the tree and moth/butterfly events if anyone else wishes to join. More details and booking options>