It has mostly been 'slash and burn' at Fosseway so far this year, but we have been kept warm through the damp and cold! We have also done some tidying and coppicing at Darnford Moor and made our first visit of the year to Summerhill. Fosseway There was no way the digger could have explored the canal bed at Fosseway until the 8ft high brambles were slashed so that one could, literally, see how the land lies underneath them. We know that this is an important site for birds, several of them both rare and migrants. RSPB advice was that so long as there is similar habitat within 1 square mile it would not cause a problem. The railway embankment and the areas we have not touched provide this. Indeed, resident linnets and migrant chiffchaffs were heard there a few days ago, along with skylarks and a green woodpecker.
So, from Lock 18, near Fosseway Lane, to the steps (about halfway along to Falkland Road) there is now a clear line of the original canal and whenever we can schedule further work the 'heavy brigade' can get machinery in and prepare for restoration.
Aileen and Hilary spent several hours "rescuing" daffodils at the Fosseway site. They are now transplanted between the path below the lock and the hedgerow. They were serenaded by a great range of bird song, including chiff chaff who have just returned from Africa- they were told by a passing birder- and skylark. Buzzard, green woodpecker, linnet, pheasant, heron were also present, together with many other of our native birds. It sounded like spring had sprung.
Between Lock 18 and Fosseway Lane it was not clear from either old maps or from what could be seen on the ground exactly where the edge of the canal and the original towpath was: excavation needed... about 3 tons of earth moved and 33 inches down came the 'Eureka' (and exhaustion) moment for Paul Reeves on 24th. January, and a very significant find for canal restoration. Watch out for Fosseway developments now that Grounds/Green has done so much.
Several Saturdays there this year: threatening brambles by trimming them; pollarding willow trees to ensure controlled spread and good bird habitat. Many of the new shoots of willow have been planted on our bank of Darnford Brook, and have taken. Willow is robust: it takes root easily, and so next year we should be weaving these single shoots to make an interesting and living willow fence. And, as if to reward us, a beautiful complete rainbow at the end of the day before the heavens opened!
After so long spent at this site in the last two years it is maybe our favourite site, even though we have renamed it 'Windy Hill'. Just one day here this year, on 8th April, but what a day! The sun shone, the wind stayed away, the skylarks sang to us, the kestrel and the buzzards watched and the badgers have another set on the side of the canal to which we want them to move! And, hooray, the recent winter's hedge-laying is already sprouting new shoots! Being pyromaniacs, though, we had to have a fire .... we have almost got rid of all the branches and roots from 2015! But it is not all destruction! A number of hawthorn saplings, nurtured by Bob and Janet Houghton and Mike Battisson were in-filled to gaps in the hedge.
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