Its been a hive of activity recently in the rangers office, getting ready for season 2014. We are recruiting for this years large blue volunteer ranger (more to come about that later), and yesterday we had a meeting over at Collard. Primarily, it was to look at last years season; the highlights and the lowlights. We also looked at the season to come and what improvments can me made. There were various people in the meeting (key people from butterfly conservation, our grazier for the site, Pat Burroughs, consultants from the National Trust, (Specialists in wildlife conservation) David Simcox and Sarah Meredith.) It was a great oppertunity to chat to all the specialists whilst we were at Collard.
The ground conditions at Collard Hill are improving. (If you have been there recently, you will understand how wet and rutted some of the ground has become.)The cattle and ponies were taken off the hill when it became really wet to prevent any futher poaching. After yesterdays meeting, it was decided that the gate could be opened again to let the grass munchers through to the hill. This will help in several ways:
The dexters (cattle) will walk around the site, hopefully flattening some of the ruttier areas, making it easier for us to walk on.
Dexters are very happy to munch on newly shooting bramble so all the work that we did this winter (clearing bramble), as the new shoots grow, they will be nibbled off.
They also like newly shooting thistles (the ponies have learnt to pull them out of the ground whilst they are young, turn them around, then swallow them backwards so they dont get too prickled!) We are aware that we have the rarer thistle (wooly thistle), We are managing the grazing in a sustainable way to keep a stable population of this type of thistle.
The grass is just starting to grow so nibbling it whilst its young will help us futher in the season.
Of course, weather conditions can change everything and as we are expecting a little rain at the end of the week. We are keeping a close eye on ground conditions and will move cattle back across if needs be.
Finally, as I said at the start of this post, we are recruiting for the 2014’s large blue volunteer ranger. We are looking for an enthusiastic conservationist, confident in communication and an active outdoor type. You will be based at Collard Hill, near Glastonbury, monitoring the Large Blue butterfly and co-ordinating visitor engagment for a 6 week project from 2nd June – 13th July. For details, phone 01934 844518 or email the head ranger at: firstname.lastname@example.org. The closing date for applications is 28th March.