Archive for November, 2020

Not all of our regular workday sites are ready to welcome groups of volunteers back yet. But that meant with more than enough to do there, Sunday saw a return to the Edge to carry on clearance as part of encouraging the adder population and keeping the scrub under control. 

With furlough and maternity it was also a chance to say hello again and probably a good luck and goodbye to assistant ranger Kyra, as others enjoyed a welcome Sunday off. 

Honarary member for the day was also a toddling Rufus in his spacesuit – just bigger than the heather clumps – did that twig make it back to the fire on the tumbril, I never saw?

The weather played it’s part too as a socially-distanced group practiced being the adders at lunchtime, spaced out enjoying the suns rays amongst the thinning clumps. 

Dudmaston Estate next…fingers crossed!!  Look out too for the “emerging” SSNTV programme for the next few months…emailed to members and with details on the Events page of

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Groundhog Day ……in a good way……as workday leader Mags recounts:

Sunday 15th saw us at Kinver Edge … again. Eleven in total, each of us had already been to a post-lockdown workday at the site, so were used to, but very mindful of the instructions on social distancing and sanitising hands and equipment.

The day was a continuation of the work from a fortnight before (see Nov. 1st post) – the tumbril still in place for our bonfire.

As leader, I missed being able to provide cake, but we still had a “no cake o’clock” after about an hour’s work. I was also keeping an eye on the weather. It was bright when we arrived, and for quite a while thereafter. Useful for checking which trees needed to be removed to allow the sun into places where adders might bask. But we could see very dark clouds threatening over the ridge. When they arrived, thankfully they only delivered short showers. Not enough to noticeably dampen the spirits, nor the fire – but enough to create weather to catch the eye!

Working beyond last time’s glades into the scrub, it was not difficult to get lost. Honing in on the fire, armed with brash, easy enough; but returning to your spot to carry on thinning was not so straightforward. It was too easy to follow a track too far down the slope or go beyond the same place in among the trees. By the end of the day all was cleared and burned; every tool accounted for and newly sanitised.

Assistant Ranger Tom also took the chance to vary the chainsaw action, trying his hand at the creation of standing deadwood for habitats, rather than felling and clearing – as the pic’s show.

All in all, well worth getting out in the fresh air … and the smoke!!

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Ed’s PS: After the missed get togethers of the recent virtual AGM and cancelled Bonfire stay-away workdays, Sunday was also the chance for Chairman Chris to hand out socially distanced SSNTV annual awards for last year: Hours Prize (Leela) and Special Mentions for Workday Leading (Russell, Peter and David B).

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Follow this link to the programme on BBC Sounds

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The Group’s expert with a billhook reports from regional HQ’s estate:

The weather forecast was grim, but still eleven people signed up for the first hedgelaying of the season. In line with current guidelines the day started with a Covid safety briefing. Before we could start on the hedge, a little coppicing was called for, to provide us with the stakes and heatherings (bindings) we needed for finishing the hedge. Hazel is the best for these as it naturally grows straight and there is nothing worse than a bendy stake!

Onto the hedgelaying: this was our first socially distanced hedgelaying task. Fortunately we have around 250m of hedge to work on, so that was not a problem. This year’s hedge is a maiden one, having never been laid before – so a good one to start on. With 11 of us beavering away much chopping was done. That said the actual length of hedge actually laid was only about 20m, but another 50m has been pre-chopped and will lay no doubt in no time when we return next in December. Can we finish the full 250m this season???

Despite the forecast, the weather gods were kind to us almost until the end, with the heavy rain not arriving until just as we were finishing. It was as they say, a good day had by all.

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Can’t get out to cut and burn this weekend….. Then why not catch up with the Trust’s news

Follow this link to the NT site from where the webcast will be broadcast,8878eabb,884c7050&p1=NTAGM1020&s=vBnsjd8WTsW0s75lTLJYrKziKCB8bYndSKsz5fBU1c8fa

There’s a recording of the event, which was held on November 7th, on this page which is still worth a listen.

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Workday leader Helen reports:

A happy, lucky band of SSNTV volunteers assembled at Kinver on a marvellous, sunny Sunday morning, ready to work with Ranger Tom.

Our mission: to help save Kinver’s important vertebrate residents, the baby adders that will come out in the Spring, from starving to death! 

This happens because when baby adders hatch, they desperately need to bask in the sun to warm up and generate enough energy to enable them to hunt and eat. Unfortunately, too much dense, scrubby undergrowth on the Heath and naughty, downright badly behaved dogs force them back into the shadows. There they stay, too frightened to come out, getting colder and colder and gradually starve to death. A very sad story. 

So SSNTV volunteers to the rescue. Their weapons: bowsaws and loppers! 

Their task: to clear little glades in the scrub of oaks and birch – to discourage errant dogs from rampaging through and still allow enough light and warmth to permeate the ground storey –  just right for baby adders. If even then, they do still get scared and look to hide, there’s enough cover close at hand! 

A wonderfully warm but socially-distanced time was had by all thanks to the Covid regulations and the moveable tumbril. Things couldn’t have got much better (except if there’d been cake!).

Thank goodness for SSNTV!  Here’s hoping we get out again soon – fingers crossed!

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