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With a spare hour to fill before a meeting earlier this week, we nipped into Dam Mire Wood with the trusty strimmer to do some prep work for the workparty on  22nd Nov when we will be planting wetland plug plants. This was a recommendation of the ecologists who did our baseline ecological survey last year and it should help diversify the plant mix and give more food for pollinators and insects. We went to check out the wettest areas and also strim down some of the grass and sieves (reeds) to give the plants maximum light. The autumn colours were still glorious despite it being a dull and wet day.

What was also really noticeable and something we have been commenting on for the last couple of months was the sheer amount of berries on not only the hawthorn trees, but also the alder. 

Apparently it is the biggest crop of hawthorn berries or haws as they are called in the last 20 years since records began and is the largest fruit score ever on the index used for scoring according to Woodland Trust volunteers who have been monitoring trees. Many of you will know that the hawthorn is also called the May tree, reflecting the time of its flowering – early May in the south, mid May in the north although this is getting earlier. Experts say the mild and dry spring when the flowers were coming out and being pollinated accounts for this bumper crop. It’s good news not only for us to enjoy when out in the countryside, but also for migrating birds such as redwings, fieldfares and thrushes, but the haws will also feed small mammals during the winter months. The alder trees at Dam Mire are also full of fruits, so more food for our wildlife to help it during the winter months. 

If you are a countryside forager, the common question of course is what can we do with haws? Well, the most common uses seem to be for jellies or ketchup as the berries have a high pectin level so they set well. You could branch out into cordials, wines or liqueurs. But the big question is, is it worth it? I haven’t found anyone who has tried it and found the flavours worth the hassle, but if you have a favourite recipe for us to try out and share, do let us know! 

We got another soaking at Mazonwath on Wednesday but luckily the sun came out later. It was a busy day. We had intended to fix a wall gap and then make a start relocating a stretch of wall that the veteran trees are knocking down as they grow. When we looked at the gap job on site it made more sense to do a whole section of wall not just a gap, so that will be a couple of workparties taken up!

We also had two contractors on site with us. Pete was putting up our new signage across the common to replace the old rotting or vanishing signs. Dan is going to remove all the old wall top fencing, put some new gates in for us and help us relocate a new gate and stoop once the wall is relocated. There is always something that needs doing in land management, especially when you turn your back for a while! Unbelievable that next month we are already back to our mince pie and mulled wine workparty, where has the year gone…. 

We have finalised the conservation work parties for 2024 and these will be up on our website shortly. 

Everyone and anyone is very welcome to join us. You do not need any particular equipment or skills or have to sign up to any minimum or maximum number of days. If doing work parties is not your thing but you live near one of our properties and fancy a walk over it now and again to check it out, we would love you to adopt a property. Just get in touch for with me for a chat. [email protected]