What I've Been up to in October!

Tegan Coupe

Hello everyone, October has been a great month and it finally feels like autumn has begun!  This is my favourite time of year to go on long walks to enjoy nature and see how much it visibly changes from day to day!

I started this month off at a site I had never been to before, Maypole wood. We spent the day clearing a small area of trees so that an orchard can be planted there in the near future. This meant I was felling small tree’s and using everything we removed to create a dead hedge. Dead hedges have great ecological benefits! They can be used not only as barriers to keep people along the footpath, but also become shelter and great sources of food for small mammals, birds and insects. I think we can all agree this is a much better method of clearing wood than alternatives such as burning.

I also learnt how to use a reciprocated mower this month which I had the opportunity to use on Moses Gate Country Gate for meadow cuts and at Wigan Flashes for fen cuts. Mowing a meadow means that the more dominant species are not able to take over, maintaining an area's rich species diversity. Fen cuts on the flashes are done in a checkerboard style on a yearly rotational basis; this means that some areas of reed beds are young and some are older, providing a range of conditions for a more diverse habitat. Mowing with machinery like a reciprocated mower can look destructive, but it is all done to maintain and improve biodiversity in these areas. Also everything cut by the mower is collected and placed into compost piles.

This month I also completed a 3 session personal safety course. This course discussed situations you might find yourself in whilst working in a variety of roles as well as precautions you could take in order to avoid these situations. These sessions have taught me much more than I expected, and I now make a conscious effort to be more aware of my surroundings and not take any unnecessary risks in my day to day life as well.

I ended this month with a two-day Willow Tit habitat survey. Willow Tits are the UK’s most threatened resident bird. They do not like to travel distances in open areas and so the fragmentation of their habitats is contributing heavily to their decline. To try and help these birds, work needs to be done to create suitable corridors for them to move around and hopefully increase their population size. I walked along the St. Helens canal and Sankey brook from Billinge to Westbrook looking at each area of woodland to determine its suitability as Willow Tit Habitat. The Willow Tit love low canopy scrubby wet woodlands and create their own nest inside deadwood. I used the data I collected on these days to produce a map of suitable areas and areas that needed improvement to take to the Willow Tit project meeting.

Next month I plan to carry out more Willow Tit habitat surveys to help identify areas suitable for management. I am also looking forward to spotting all the different types of fungi as we get further into autumn!

Tegan creating a dead hedge