Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Celebrating Spring

With the spring weather returning we're back out at Corehead Farm with a range of different activities for all ages

We kicked off the season with a Woodland Activity Day which was a mix of conservation work, tree identification, folklore and exploring!

Tree tube removal - its amazing how big these trees have grown in only a few years
Learning about the celtic tree alphabet!
Sharing stories about the trees! 

Then a week later it was the Egg-stravaganza family activity day.

The theme was to learn about birds, eggs,  chick's and celebrate the arrival of spring. 

We started off with a visit into the wetland to see the marsh marigolds which are already blooming.
We went in duckling formation to avoid any potential of falling into the wetland pools!

We collected a few flowers and leaves for our egg dying activity and then set to work to dye our eggs with onion skins

whilst they were cooking away there were nests to build, egg and spoon races to be had, and clues to be discovered to learn more about different birds nests and chick rearing methods. We had team black bird, robin, tawny owl and wood pecker. 

Sharing what we learnt with other groups

Finally it was off to the orchard on a final chocolate egg hunt before unveiling our decorated eggs complete with spring leaf and flower shapes!

Look out for more family activities across the year

Ali Murfitt
Community and Education Officer

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Fancy a job?

For those of you who follow our work, you may or may not be aware that we have a new job position to fill. Our current Site Officer (that is me!) is leaving on Friday so we are looking for a new person to fill some Site Officer boots!
The job of a Site Officer is very varied. No two days are the same and no one day ever goes as you think it will! But you do get to work in some of the most stunning landscapes in southern Scotland for an organisation that is leading the way in the fields of rewilding and ecological restoration.
The Site Officers role is mostly out and about and the best way to get a feel of what's involved is to read past blog posts - they are in essence a diary of what to expect. Everything from tree planting at high altitude to land and wildlife surveying, leading volunteer groups, feeding into management plans, days out on the quad bike and of course writing blog posts! The list goes on. But the best thing about the job is the team you will have behind you. Borders Forest Trust is lucky to have an absolutely brilliant staff team with wider support from contractors, trustees and volunteers. You'll be welcomed into the fold immediately and fully supported from day one.
If you are interested, follow the link to find out more.
And from me, a final post as the BFT Site Officer. A huge thanks to everyone I've worked with and met along the way. You've been great....

Site Officer

Monday, 21 March 2016

Playing it safe

People often associate us with planting trees and yes, it is one of the main things that we do.

However across our sites, we do have a few older trees (which we cherish) that occasionally need a closer look at. This isn't just to admire the lichen growth or in some cases, sheer size of them, but it is with a Health and Safety hat on. We welcome visitors to all of our sites and where there are paths that we manage, neighbouring roads and houses, we need to carefully inspect the trees to ensure that as far as we can tell they are safe for people to walk and/or gather under and in sometimes in our case, to work under!

Surveying trees. In this we're hitting the tree with a hammer. It's actually quite a good way of identifying how sound the wood is!
We've been writing our new Tree Safety Management policy and this winter have started visiting all of our sites to undertake surveys. Firstly we decide on how well used an area is by visitors, staff and volunteers. This will then dictate how detailed a survey needs to be undertaken and how regularly this should be eg once a year, once every 2 years etc. If there are paths that we manage then they are more likely to need a more through, regular survey as opposed to the middle of a woodland which will require less.

Once we have surveyed an area we then need to examine what works are needed to make any trees that we have identified as potentially dangerous, safe. Sometimes this can simply be regular surveying to monitor any worsening conditions. Or it may require something more drastic such as cutting back branches, or even felling.

This large Birch at our Drygrange site had blown over and got caught in some trees on the other side of the path. We decided that the only option was to fell the tree to make it safer for walkers who were continuing to pass beneath
But these things are never straight forward. It took us nearly 3 hours to get it down as it kept getting tangled up in other trees!

This sycamore had a large hole where the branch joined the main stem which was over the path. Rather than fell the whole stem we just reduced some of the branches to take the weight out of it
And this is one we will continue to monitor. It's quite a bit away from the path but it has 2 fungal infections - the black stuff is Kretschmaria deusta and the fruiting bodies beneath are a type of Ganoderma. They might not mean immediate failure of the tree but we have made a note of them and will continue to look for signs in the tree such as crown vigour to indicate it's health
This tree at Ettrick Willows had blown over the boardwalk and was very unstable.
But it was quite straight forward to make it safe with the chainsaw. We left all the wood we felled on site. Dead wood is an incredibly important habitat which we are seeing less and less of due to the 'tidying' of woodlands and increase in removal for firewood. It's so important to leave at least as much as you take.
This is a lovely old Rowan at Ettrick Marshes. This is one we will also continue to monitor. It looked in fairly good health but it would be useful to assess it in full leaf.
If you want to know more about tree safety surveying have a look at this document$FILE/FCMS025.pdf. It gives some really good guidance using a good old helping of common sense!

Site Officer