February was a very busy month and I managed to get involved with lots of different things!
Firstly, I joined the New Cut Heritage group and other volunteers down at Paddington meadows in Warrington to help cut and move an area of reed bed. Diverse reedbeds with different stages of growth are much better for wildlife than an older reedbed which is the same age throughout and is not managed. The cutting was done by using a couple of brushcutters and a clearance saw, any small trees that were felled were used to create a dead hedge nearby.
I also took part in training for a White-faced darter reintroduction feasibility survey. The aim of this survey was to see which sites are the closest to being ready for the possible reintroduction of white faced darter in years to come. This was done by visual judgement of the levels of sphagnum cuspidatum, cotton grass and soft rush within and surrounding the pool. The pH and conductivity of each pool was also noted. We also did a water invertebrate sample at different points within the pool and noted roughly how many of each taxa we could see.
This month, there was another hedge laying workshop at Moss Brook Farm. The hedge line at this site is really starting to take shape! Now that volunteers on this site have had some experience with hedge laying themselves, they are able to go away and work on the site in their own time and continue the work on the hedge.
I also visited Blackleach Country Park to go to a Willow Tit Survey training day that was run by Steve Atkins. We walked the site, looking for the presence of Willow tit in the form of visual sightings as well as calls or song. Although we did not see or hear any Willow Tit, it was a really informative and interesting day that I enjoyed. I now feel confident in identifying a Willow Tit from either a call or a sighting!
Sphagnum moss is a huge part of the restoration work done across the mosslands and is an important part of the bog ecosystem. I was lucky and had the opportunity to attend a Sphagnum moss ID day down at Princes Park Garden Centre put on by Lorna Smithers, a Mossland Trainee. We spent the day identifying key features to help differentiate between the species of sphagnum looking at them under a hand lens and under a microscope. Such a fun day!