Posted by: KimBoland | July 9, 2015

Surveys, a working holiday, a woodland fun day and a Bioblitz!

Here, Emma our Seasonal Ranger talks about what we’ve been up to during June ……

Yet again we have had a very busy month here on Gower. Our new full time volunteer Tim has been getting to know the area, and has settled in well. We have also been joined by two new weekday volunteers Jess and Gareth, who are both enjoying work in the great outdoors.

Earlier in June we were mostly working in the Rhossili Bay area. We started the month with a Llangenith beach litter pick, on a gloriously sunny day. Here we were joined by a large team of enthusiastic volunteers from Lloyds Bank. We managed to collect nearly a full trailer of rubbish, thankfully there were several bags of plastic which we could recycle, so not everything had to go to landfill. But we were shocked by the amount of broken glass and BBQ waste, left carelessly on the beach.

Lloyds bank litter pick Llangenith

Lloyds Bank litterpicking

Later that week I supervised my first working holiday group in a bracken bash on the Warren at Rhossili. Equipped with sharpening stones and long handed slashers, they ploughed their way through loads of bracken. We even found a delicate Adder skin, which one of them took home for their grandson to see.

We rounded the day off with a well-deserved icecream, and a visit to the photographic exhibition at the National Trust gift shop. A few days later, our regular volunteers were delighted to finish gathering the last of the burnt gorse from the Lookout. It really was a bigger and dirtier job than we realised, and it was great to get finished.

Working hol after bracken bash

Later in June our volunteers had a couple of visits to Ryers Down. It was more of the same, cutting back and burning the Rhododendron. This time due to the wind direction we just had one small fire. We were also joined on our second visit by Kick Start, who did a great job of helping us to drag bundles of branches up the steep slopes.

The end of the month involved lots of work in the Cwm Ivy area, as we had a 50 Things Family Woodland Fun Day and a Bioblitz to prepare for. These were both happening on the same weekend, so we wanted to make sure the area was nice and tidy. This involved fixing a stile, gate and sign post. As well as lots of strimming round the main entrance and lodge to tidy up the weeds and nettles.

Around this time many of our weekday volunteers were helping Corrinne our Wildlife Survey Officer with her otter surveys. This involved searching the new salt marsh area for signs of otter activity. They found tracks and lots of spraints (droppings) which they collected. The spraints can now be analysed to learn more about the diet of these animals. Despite not seeing any otters, everyone really enjoyed learning more about them and what signs to look out for.

A big marquee and lots of bunting at the lodge, signalled the start of the really successful Woodland Family Fun Day. It was really well attended, and provided lots of activities including bird box building and campfire cooking. The following day was the Bioblitz, which used the bunkhouse as its base.

The aim of the Bioblitz was to search out and record as many local flora and fauna as possible in just 24 hours. Lots of people were involved including professional plant and animal experts, Swansea University lecturers and students, Llanerchaeron Rangers, local school pupils, volunteers and the general public. Activities included bug hunts, wildflower walks, strandline searches, bat/mammal/reptile/moth surveys and a dawn chorus walk. At first count, over 600 species were recorded with more still to be entered into the system. I was pleased to have seen my first real Bee Orchids, and some amazingly huge Privet Hawk Moths. A really fantastic weekend was had by all.

And last but by no means least, we finished the month off with a work day on the Worm. It was fantastic weather, and there were lots of other visitors exploring the worm and causeway too. Our new volunteer Jess had never been there before. Our job was to finish off gathering and burning the cut gorse. The volunteers worked really hard, and battled with the slopes and the prickly shrubs to complete the task in good time. We even saw some seals in the water and a Peregrine overhead.  The conditions were perfect for a days work on the Worm.

Worm workday

Working on the worm

Thanks again to all the volunteers this month for their hard work, it has been great to introduce visitors and new volunteers  to Gower, finish off lots of jobs, and discover more about the amazing local wildlife.

Also, Claire has been busy on Gower – CLICK HERE to read Claire’s June Snippetts!,

Emma – Seasonal Ranger

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