Muck in day at St Aidan’s

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.

View over St Aidan’s Nature Reserve from the main entrance, 3pm on Sunday 12th January 2020.

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
This entry was posted in Days out, Good for the environment, Wildlife and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Muck in day at St Aidan’s

  1. nanacathy2 says:

    What a marvellous way to spend a day.

  2. Good work Helen! It looks quite nice out there along the water.

  3. A good day. Well done. We have such volunteer groups in the New Forest

  4. Going Batty in Wales says:

    There always seems to be as much chatting and tea drinking at volunteer days! Lovely to see how nature is recovering.

  5. My PhD research was about the restoration of open cast coal sites; it’s good to read about one that is such a brilliant site for wildlife now… especially since, having grown up in Leeds, I actually remember it flooding back in the 1980s!

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