Until relatively recently, there was an open cast mine between the villages of Woodlesford, Swillington, Methley and Great & Little Preston, just southeast of Leeds. Then it flooded and was taken over by the RSPB, becoming St Aidan’s Nature Reserve.
I prefer woodland to meadows and ponds but we do need all terrains for the sake of biodiversity. And I have seen birds there, such as kestrels and cormorants, which don’t visit my back garden!
Anyway, whilst walking in the reserve just after New Year, I noticed a sign advertising a ‘Muck in day’ on 12 January. So, I decided to pop along yesterday to see what it was all about.
Oh my! The enthusiasm – there were a good twenty-five of us, which was particularly impressive in view of the cold wind and threat of rain. Equally impressive was the rate at which we cut down the unwanted willow in one area of the reserve.
These trees have presumably suckered from others in a thicket further along. In any case, a decision had been made that they needed to be removed for the benefit of wild flowers such as knapweed, so we were cutting them down in order to make digging the roots out by professionals an easier task.
Gavin, who was in charge of the muck in, assured us that other trees would be planted elsewhere. I think they might be a different type of tree, however, as willows and wetlands are never going to be easy to manage.
He and his wife also provided us with a cuppa and biscuits after the hour it took us to do the cutting down. In fact, we had as much time to chat and consume their offerings as we had spent outside working, so it was altogether a very pleasing day out.