This morning a band of volunteers from the Gravesend RSPB group arrived early at Northward Hill RSPB reserve for our annual ‘Volunteering day’ activity. (Editors note: this post is best viewed in a browser if you want to view the video clip below!)
We were guided by Hannah, an RSPB intern who is currenting living and volunteering on the reserve. Our task this year was to clear an area to the east of Gordon’s hide where a group of young Ash trees had been felled. The Ash trees had been removed as they were close to the electric fence surrounding the scrape allowing corvids and other predators to target nesting birds. They were also suffering from Ash blight.
We were faced with a several daunting large piles of Ash trunks and cuttings and had to move these and burn them on a bonfire.
Progress at first seemed slow – the bonfire struggling to keep up and the piles looking no smaller. However, we persevered, sweated and heaved – the bonfire got ‘up to speed’ and after an hour or so was consuming the branches and cuttings as fast as we could throw them on.
With a quick coffee break at 11:30am we continued until 1:30pm when we had managed to clear all the piles of Ash cuttings, much to Hannah’s surprise. The bonfire by this point would have made any ‘Guy Fawkes’ night celebration proud.
Exhausted we sat down and ate our lunch – I don’t think mind even ‘touched the sides’ I was so hungry! And we watched the fire burn down to smoldering ashes. The final picture here shows the large pile of ash left at the end – hence this post title Ashes to Ashes! We also managed to watch a few birds: stonechats and robins who were keeping an eye on our proceedings, plus marsh harrier, grey heron and kestrel patrolling in the background with occasional large flocks of greylag geese swirling around in the sky above.
My thanks to everyone who came and helped – it was hard and hot work which made a positive contribution to the management of the reserve. Thanks to Hannah for organising us, providing the coffee and tools – and good luck to her in her new job as an assistant warden in the RSPB Forth of Fife reserves in Scotland!