News from Roland Wicksteed for April 2016

  • Spring is here?

    16:00 28 April 2016
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    After several days of glorious sunshine, the arrival of blizard like conditions came as quite a shock on this day, Thursday the 28th of the Troutbeck Valley.

    Our Ford Ranger...

    ...was instinctively sought out as the best shelter available by this lamb of just a few hours old born this day, Thursday 28th of the Troutbeck Valley...

    The anxious ewe keeps a weather eye on her off-spring!

    07:00 15 April 2016
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

     Whilst working on a roadside footpath near The Howe Farm, Troutbeck, Bruna Remesso, Academy Ranger based at Saint Catherine's saw this impressive looking fungi. Using her mobile phone she took some images of it...

     ...growing on...

    ...a wrapped hay bale! 

    Just a tiny hole in the bale wrap has enabled the fungi within to fruit like this...anyone know what variety this one is!?
  • Spread of Invasive Himalayan Balsam after the Floods.

    08:36 12 April 2016
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    An increase in the numbers of Himalayan Balsam seedlings are taking root at Millerground, on the east side of Windermere, this April. (See image below). 

    Flood water has dispersed seeds from upstream over a much larger area than usual and in much greater concentrations.
    Himalayan Balsam is highly Invasive and will take over large areas if not  controlled.

     Millerground is an important site for the rare native Touch-Me-Not Balsam which, sadly, is easily out competed and ousted by alien plant species especially Himalayan Balsam.
    This is an image of a Himalayan Balsam seedling. The heart shaped leaves running from top left to bottom right of the image are the cotyledon leaves which are present in the seed prior to germination. The first true leaves formed after germination are to be seen diagonally from top right to bottom left. 
    Incredibily, there are over three hundred seedlings in this large handful pulled up from just a small patch of ground at Millerground. Each seedling has the potential to grow to over three metres in height and produce up to eight hundred seeds by late Summer..... form dense stands like this one in following seasons. This stand was photographed in July on privately owned land above Millerground and on the same water course, Wynlass Beck, that flows through Millerground.
    Here is another stand by the side of Wynlass Beck slightly further upstream growing alongside yet another horribly invasive plant, Japanese Knotweed.
    Pollinators, mainly bumblebees, find Himalayan Balsam utterly irresistible as it produces vast quantities of nectar with a high sugar content over an extended flowering period; (It's a bit like putting a child in a sweet shop with no restraints!)

     Pollinators often ignore native plants in favour of this alien invader! This reduces the seed set of native plants and assists the spread of Himalayan Balsam  adversely altering the ecological balance and nature of riparian and wetland habitats.

    A benefit of eradicating or at least reducing the numbers of Himalayan Balsam will 'encourage' pollinators to actively seek out native plants which in turn will increase in numbers allowing them to make a comeback in areas previously dominated by Himalayan Balsam. This should improve biodiversity...particularly in wetland areas and along river banks.
    Touch-Me-Not Balsam stand at Millerground last Summer; intensive eradication of Himalayan Balsam in this area has allowed the native balsam to flourish here.
    A close up of a Touch-Me-Not flower.

    Even more extensive eradication work will be needed at Millerground this season to prevent....
    ...causing this...
    ...and this to occur year after year.
  • This post has no title...just words and piccys.

    16:00 08 April 2016
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Today, Friday 8th April, the Trust tenant farmer at Causeway Farm brought three ewes with their day old lambs to the parkland at St. Catherine's.

    A well earned rest after a bout of heavy drinking!

     St. Catherine's is very popular with dog walkers so,with the arrival of the livestock, these signs were immediately put up by Trust rangers at access points into the parkland. 

    With livestock back in the parkland, a priority job was to clear the gravel (that had been washed down in the Winter floods) out of the cattle-grid.

    Livestock would find it fairly easy to negotiate this cattle-grid, full to the brim with gravel for much of its area, and wander out onto the road. Normally this cattle-grid is lifted out for cleaning purposes but the gravel had completely covered the fixing bolts... the Spring Clean had to be done the hard way.
    Trowels were used to scoop out the gravel between the bars...

    ...after loosening the impacted gravel with a bar (colour coordinated of course)...

    ...and or a mattock.

    The gravel was put to use resurfacing a boggy section of the nearby footpath. Recycling at its best!

    The gravel was dumped...

    ...and 'raked'.... give a much better surface to this popular footpath.

    Work in progress.

    After well over two hours of hard work, and with a fair amount of empathy from passers-by, the job is done!

    The daffodils in the parkland...a particularly fine display this Spring.

News from Roland Wicksteed

Photo of Roland Wicksteed

Ranger. It is a privilege to live and work in this beautiful area; it is unique. I am based at Windermere and Troutbeck. My favourite work is drystone walling and hedgelaying. I enjoy instructing Working Holiday Groups in both of these traditional crafts. Part of my work involves keeping the numbers of "invasive non native species" down as much as possible. I also continue to work on a project, the aim of which is to increase the numbers of the scarce touch me not balsam plants,(yellow flowering plants in the image's background!) which the rare netted carpet moth depends upon for its survival. The numbers of moths and plants are mainly restricted to a few small sites in The Lake District.