Friday, 10 September 2010

Fowlmere volunteering

Yesterday I was volunteering at RSPB Fowlmere and just felt like blogging about it.  It wasn't a particularly special day, but it was fun and hard work and very satisfying, so what's not to like about that?

The warden, Doug, took a couple of us off the beaten track to where a willow tree had had a branch blown off recently, and we proceeded to pollard it, which took all day.

The tree had obviously been coppiced some years ago, as there were about half a dozen trunks springing from the base, each about 10cm thick, and Doug cut each in turn with the chainsaw.  Ray and I then used loppers and occasionally bowsaws to reduce the lighter wood to burnable dimensions while Doug cut the thick stuff into lengths of perhaps a metre and a half for stacking in a wildlife stack.

Once we'd got a decent pile of the light stuff, Ray got a fire going and we were kept pretty busy feeding it.  Starting with dry wood, the fire was soon chucking out quite a bit of heat and as time went by we were able to put the green wood on and burn that, too.  We were joined by a couple of the other volunteers once they'd finished whatever it was they were doing.

The fire burned down a bit while we ate our lunch, but we were quickly able to restore it once Doug cut down more of the tree.

Once everything was on the fire, most of them left, leaving another volunteer and me to tend the fire until it was safe to leave.  We hung about for another hour or so but then he had a text message from his wife at home to say that a heavy shower had just passed through their village heading for us.  As he had no waterproofs, he gathered most of the remaining tools and scarpered.

I put my Rohan jacket on and sheltered under a tree until the worst was over. The Rohan is not waterproof, but the rain didn't last long and I didn't get seriously wet. It certainly didn't seem to have any effect on the fire! I waited for another half an hour or so, by which time the fire had died down, showing neither flames nor smoke, then went home myself.  In that last half hour I took this photograph, which I'm quite pleased with.  It seems to encapsulate Fowlmere, so I thought I'd show it to you..  The building you can just see is a big hide overlooking the mere, where we get various ducky things, herons and waders.

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