Volunteering at the Devenish Nature Reserve

26 Mar 2018
By Rosemary Winson

There was a feeling that spring was in the air last Sunday and the weather was significantly better than we have experienced over the past few weeks, cloudy maybe, but dry with just a light breeze.

Under the guidance of Richard Death, the volunteer warden for the Devenish Reserve, and of another representative of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, nine volunteers were set the task of planting scores of young hedging plants along the eastern-most boundary of the Reserve, at the top of the High Ridge.  

The first task was to take all the new plants and tools up to the planting area and we soon appreciated how High Ridge had earned its name. Our climb was rewarded with a beautiful view looking down to the Durnford Valley.  The Balwen Welsh Mountain sheep certainly looked at home. 

Richard told us that eggs of a fairly rare Brown Hairstreak butterfly (image above) had been found on the Reserve last year, and that the plants for this new mixed hedge had been carefully selected to provide a suitable habitant in which Hairstreak butterflies might lay their eggs. The plant species included Wayfarer, Blackthorn, wild rose and wild plum.

The plants were taken out of their wrappers and mixed up so that no one species would dominate a stretch of the hedge. Canes were stuck into the ground at suitable intervals to mark where the double-hedge would be planted, and then light digging began, with just enough space to put a handful of compost and the roots of the plants needed.  Plastic sleeves were then fitted to dissuade voles and other mammals from eating the new growth.

During our coffee break, a Red Kite flew above us, following the valley contours.  Some dog walkers paused to say hello. (They turned out to be Stratford residents known to some of us.)  The Reserve is a wonderful place to enjoy a quiet walk.

The next volunteer day at the Devenish Reserve is Monday 16 April.

This is just a short stretch of the hedge that was planted.