Friday, 23 September 2011

Woody Debris Project

The second year of work on the river Bollin took place this week. Tim the warden supported by contractors were busy felling trees and carefully placing in the river to create 'woody debris'.

This mimics nature to create areas where young fish including Salmon can take refuge from predators such as herons and other fish.

The work has been funded by the Environment Agency and is a three year project.

Accountants Bash Rhododendron

Hurst accountants came for a team building day and do some good in the countryside. Working in Arthur's wood they cleared a sizable area of the invasive rhododendron. 48 from the team came to work in the wood under the direction of John the warden.

Crunching plants certainly beats crunching numbers said one employee!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Very Special Tree 

What a beautiful tree this is. Standing on the edge of the garden. We have two roughly the same size but one goes straight up while the other spreads out.

Tree Inspections

A part of looking after a large estate and allowing public access is keeping people safe. To this end for 20 plus years the NT have had a systematic process of inspecting and recording trees on its property's. The area is zoned according to visitor use, very high to very low use. Trees within the very high are inspected annually while the very low, usually in remote fields get a glance when passing. All of this is recorded and defects in trees actioned where necessary. This can be a time consuming business and often a costly one.

Yesterday I discovered a walnut, lovely tree, planted to enhance the setting, with two very large crack running up the two boles (Trunk) of the tree. Nothing can now save this tree from the certain fate that awaits it as it sits within a very high usage zone. The good news is that we can probably cut the tree down and wait for the stump to generate new growth.

Out of this we can select one or two shoots to grow on to form 'new' trees.

This is an age old process our forefathers used but has now largely died out of use. That is coppicing. Using the biomass of the plants for an endless variety of uses. From fencing, firewood, tool handles, pegs, brooms, you name it, it could be made out of coppiced material.

So we shall see what happens? We have the Forestry advisor coming next week to carry out some training for volunteers so I shall take him for a look at this one and another couple of very large beech trees that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

High Winds

Following yesterdays high winds in the North West, I set off this morning with the dog who looked more than baffled but very happy to accompany me to see what devastation had been wrecked on the place. Very little in fact! One big beech tree fallen over on the side of the river Bollin. The most inaccessible place to get to with chainsaws. If it wasn't for the fact it had fallen on someone else's land we would just leave it. Today has been a lovely day, the sun has shone and the wind not been so bad. The dog looks very tired now, but content.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Corporate Volunteer Groups

Had lots of dealings today with different companies wanting to bring employees out to work in the community. Some do it as a 'team building' exercise others do it because as it's seen to be good to give something back to the community.

Some of the tasks I have been going through with them include; Woodland work, creation of a new area where we can run small events such a den building, hedge laying, footpath work. The team leader, the one tasked with running the day for the rest of the group Say's, 'yes that'll be great, that'll be fine'.  They don't know just how hard some of the work can be until they are on site. That's why we meet them, walk them through the task, talk through the risks and let them assess the site.

We have had some really good teams who have got stuck in and made a huge difference in one day. It's amazing what 30+ people can do! Have a look at the link on the blog.

We have a team of 100 coming in October to sort out some of the paths with us and create a new route for visitors.

All in all I find corporate groups to be really useful in achieving my objectives and introducing new people to the estate.Long may it continue.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Pond Issues

Had an enjoyable meeting today with a very knowledgeable volunteer looking at all this water. Specifically the mil pond. This has gone through various stages of development since the 18c and now about to go through another.

We find ourselves with a pond slowly silting up by the river depositing silt loads, especially in times of flood. The 1 in 100 year events seem to happen with ever increasing frequency nowadays leading to the pond becoming shallower and of less benefit to wildlife. It ceased to power the mill for full production a long time ago. The huge mill wheel is still turned by water power today but requires less of it than formerly. So we no longer have the need for a large storage area.

It was put forward to put in stop logs to effectively close off the inlet to the pond stopping inputs of silt from the river. There will still be issues with leaves in autumn but we will have to monitor this effect over time.

After this meeting we walked up to the reservoir by the car park, now frequented ducks, to look at similar issues here. This very square pond was dug to create a store of water above the mill to aid in fighting fires. A small bore pipe leads down to a hydrant in the mill yard where hoses would have been attached. Now all coroded and siezed. A discussion was had over installing a seperator to get rid of the hydrocarbons, entering into the pond. The car park surface water runs off into the pond. This keep it nicely topped up but we have to think how we deal with the nastys that run off with it!

The ducks were enjoying themselves at any rate.

Finished off the day showing round a new member of staff around and discussing how we can increase the corporate days we have at Styal and quality of visits. I think that'll be an ongoing task over the next few weeks. Has confirmation today of a company coming with 100 employees to carry out a task in October for us so looking forward to that one.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Bike Day

Manchester 100 came past the Estate today. There were  hundreds of bikes taking part, some of them looked like they had had enough when coming past the office. Only another 5 miles to go, 95 under the belt though, well done to all of them. Might look at that for next year? Have to get a bike first!

One of our volunteers comes in by bike, 56 mile round trip, not bad going and he's here at 9am!

It's been one of those days where trying to get certain things done and complete has been frustrated by a stream of irritations! How annoying is a printer that won't print? Despite abusive threats and pulling all the wires and cables out of the wall and reinserting them, still nothing. It's not the first time either. We seem to have a bit of kit here that revels in not obeying commands.
What it doesn't know, is that next door I have just unwrapped a shiny new all sing all dancing bit of kit that make our unruly printer obsolete. So when said shiny new thing is up and running, I'm going to take unruly printer out to the yard...and run it over with the tractor! 

Autumn is here now good and proper. The mornings have taken on that feel that you only get in Autumn. There are downsides however. If you can imagine how many leave you have to collect (or not) in your back garden, them multiply that by around 6 or 7 hundred you may have some idea of the scale we deal with. From Now till Christmas we will be sweeping, blowing, heaping, trailering, sucking and hiding lots of leaves. It's good fun though.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Harvest has started today, the combine rolled in after lunch to begin munching it's way though the fields of oats. Been working with Steve today, new volunteer. We created a new play item for the exciting new play area in the upper garden. Also worked through all the evets to happen in October. We wanted October to be 'Conservation in Action' month and to try to have something happening every day. 

This proved difficult so were having something happening for people to join in with at least twice a week. The rain held off too...Bonus!