RSPB Geltsdale has kindly received four beautifully handcrafted hedgehog hibernation homes from Denton Woodcraft, a day service run by Cumbria County Council for adults with a learning disability, based in Carlisle.
The fourth "Hedgehog Hotel" was presented by Denton Woodcraft and Garden Links members in person when they visited the reserve for a spot of bird watching on Tindale Tarn and enjoy their packed lunch in the visitor centre.
These wonderful hibernation homes offer hedgehogs excellent winter accommodation, made from untreated recycled timber, with a generous enterance tunnel to deter predators. Three of the homes are already located at the reserve and local schools, but a new location is required for the fourth home featured above.
It maybe a little late for this winter, however if you have a quiet corner of the garden or school playground and would like to provide a home for our "Hedgehog Hotel", contact Jill at RSPB Geltsdale, email email@example.com with the following information:
The candidate with the most hedgehog friendly location will be selected in the New Year
Photograph: Stephen Westerberg (left) with members of Denton Woodcraft & Garden Links Day Services
Though there are few trees on the reserve, there are a couple of mixed conifer woods near the tarn. For one of our tasks, staff and volunteers set about splitting logs from felled larch. It was only possible to move these logs to the current site this Summer when conditions fringing the tarn became dry enough and this was ably done by Dolly, the Dales pony. Great consideration is taken prior to any fellling, though the reason here was to open up an area to link with the meadow or elsewhere for nesting wader birds. Taking in all the relevant health and safety requirements, Belinda busily chainsawed the logs into manageable pieces for us all to split up with axes! A job done with great gusto. Anyone can join our merry band of Wednesday Work Party Volunteers. Find out what tasks are coming up and more by calling Belinda Lloyd, Farmland Warden Assistant on 01697 746717, or email Geltsdale@rspb.org.uk
Away from the reserve, we also look after Gelt Wood and Coombe Crag (near Hadrian's Wall long distance path). Both are popular ancient woods attracting runners, walkers and members of the public. Following on from the storm last Thursday night, it was part of Ian and Belinda's duty to review them for any resulting damage where only a couple of minor clearances were required at Coombe Crag.
Geltsdale is made up of a mosaic of habitats: higher ground blanket bog, wetlands of hay meadow and rush, woodland pasture and valleys - all supporting wader birds, black grouse and many other wildlife along with it. Grazing sheep and Blue Grey cattle among the farmland help create varying ground vegetation for breeding lapwing, redshank and curlew in the Spring and Summer. For anyone who hasn't visited, there are a choice of short and long walking trails to explore and take in the views offered.
RSPB Geltsdale, Cumbria
A key British landscape feature visible around the Pennines and the reserve are dry stone walls. From time to time we carry out this ancient craft repairing sections that have fallen away. The first thing involves carefully dismantling the collapsed stones to create a safer working condition and if space allows, sorting into piles of foundation stones, infills, throughs and coping stones.
The foundations are set to create a line of stones either side of eachother forming the front /back wall upon which the subsequent upward stones are placed just as a brick wall with the stones level and the joins bridged by the stone above and below.
The gap running in the middle are filled with infill stones. Rocky and unsettled stones are chocked for stabilty throughout the process. The height is built to an estimate before adding the through stones which cover the entire width of the wall to provide extra support.
Construction continues as before to the required height until the mightiest of all stones, the coping stones, are laid atop the finished wall.
The geology of stones and building methods vary between the regions and here the majority used is gritstone. Though we are no experts in the field it's definately a rewarding team effort when a wall is finally completed! At the next walling event on RSPB Geltsdale (some time in 2014!), be sure to have a go. You will have learnt a new skill about British heritage and had fun in the process.
Love nature? The walling was carried out on our Wednesday Work Party day, where we're all a diverse friendly bunch, mucking in together on varied tasks on and around the reserve, so come and give it a go. To find out more call Belinda Lloyd, Farmland Warden Assistant on 01697 746717, or email Geltsdale@rspb.org.uk