Monday, 14 February 2011

A friend and colleague remembered

The 800+ metre boardwalk along the western boundary was the brainchild of our great friend Stuart Hutchings, who was employed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust for many years as reserves ranger. He was also one of the best-known birders in the county. Stuart and his team toiled for many months to construct the boardwalk and it was so nearly complete when he died. This bench overlooks Lower Predannack Downs and is a fitting reminder of his dedication to the reserve. That's him above on the Greek island of Samos during one of our regular birding jaunts. Many thanks to Simon Taylor for supplying the plaque.

One of the features of the farm that many people notice is the wealth of tall, thick hedgerows of blackthorn, willow and gorse. They provide great habitat for a multitude of wildlife. There are however one or two exceptions where, over the years, cattle have opened up a few gaps which have become progressively wider, so it's actually no longer a hedge.

Last week Martin Rule and Richard Sharp braved the elements and gave us the benefit of their considerable skills by "laying" one of these straggly hedges. Hedge-laying is a method of reinvigorating a hedge by taking advantage of its ability to make new growth after being cut back. The stems are cut partly through near ground level so that they will bend without snapping off and continue to grow. The stems are arranged to form a stock-proof barrier. New growth comes from the cut stump and in time the hedge is completely rejuvenated.