Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Swindon-based volunteer group ‘Active Too’ has been busy helping Cotswold Water Park volunteers with some much-needed work to conserve reedbeds.
“Reedbeds are amongst the most important habitats for birds in the UK,” says Phillipa Sheldrake, Countryside Ranger for the Cotswold Water Park (CWP).
“They support reed warblers, cettis warblers, the elusive bittern and many others. They are also important as wintering roosting sites for starlings in particular.”
The tasks involved clearing some of the willow that was encroaching into the reedbed in Keynes Country Park, threatening the value of this important habitat for birds and other wildlife.
“Willow is a moisture-loving tree and encroaches rapidly onto reedbed sites when left unchecked,” adds Phillipa. “We are continually coppicing reedbeds in the winter, although we only have a small window of opportunity as water levels impede work after December.”
“A huge amount of willow was cleared, despite the appallingly wet weather,” says Sarah Stebbing, the Trust’s Swindon Volunteer Co-ordinator. “Luckily in the end, the sun came out and we were able to end the day with a bonfire and an eagerly-awaited marshmallow toasting.”
“We were really pleased to be involved in this conservation task,” she adds. “The Active Too group normally carries out work in and around Swindon, but wildlife knows no boundaries, and what is good for a species just over the county border, will be good for species in Wiltshire.”
“We look forward to welcoming Cotswold Water Park volunteers to Wiltshire and to more ‘twinning’ opportunities.”
“We are always looking for new volunteers, so if you’re interested in joining us, give us a call,” she adds. “No prior knowledge or experience of practical conservation tasks is needed as all tasks are explained and guidance is given on how to use the tools.”
“It’s a great chance for people to get involved in helping to protect wildlife, learn new skills and make friends.”
The Active Too volunteers meet every Thursday and the first and third Sunday of every month. The project is funded by the Cabinet Office and volunteering initiative GoldStar to encourage more people to volunteer.
The Cotswold Water Park Estates and Ranger Team are also keen to recruit more volunteers – they meet every third Sunday between September and June, from 10am to 3pm. For more information call Phillipa Sheldrake on 07789 511566, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.