Frilford Heath Golf Course, 1st December 2018

There was barely a golfer in sight this rainy morning, proving the 15 green gymmers that turned out for today’s session back at the fen within Frilford Heath Golf Course are a much hardier species! James led the session along with the project manager, Rod d’Ayala and Alison Muldal and Judy Webb from Natural England. We made our way from the meeting point laden with rakes, pitchforks and other equipment where Rod was already to be found raking.

The morning’s task was to continue the good work from the last session - raking the cut reeds and sedge that had been taking over in the calcium rich ground of the calcareous fen into the stream that runs through the site. The purpose of this is twofold: to raise the stream bed, enabling the water to spread out over the fen, and also to rot down in the water, the bacteria from this process converting the nitrate to nitrogen. Clearing the reeds and sedge makes way for rare species such as Grass of Parnassus, Devil's-bit Scabious, Narrow-leaved Marsh Orchid and Marsh Helleborine to thrive in this unique habitat.

There’s always the risk of ‘soggy foot’ when working at the fenland sites, and on this occasion it was Andrew who went in over his boot in the first half of the session. There’s always one!

By tea break we had made considerable progress and Rod was very pleased, saying with all the work that’s been done over the last few years we’ve taken the site back to how it would have looked eighty years ago before trees started encroaching. He gave a rallying cry, encouraging us to keep up the good work.

The second half of the session was mostly spent tidying up twigs and branches from the fenland, to make it easier for raking next time in the spring, and also consolidating the piles of branches from previous sessions. We’d made such good progress that we were able to finish half an hour early. There was no sighting of the medium-sized frog on this occasion but we found a cluster of earth star fungi and made our way back to the car park happy with our work.

Photos by Andrew and Joanna:

Car boots and wellie boots.

More Green Gymmers than golfers out on the course.

Instructions are issued.

Carolyn gets stuck in.

The Goblet.

Piles of cut reeds awaiting the rake.

Preparing to work or perhaps rehearsing some dance moves?

A proliferation of Collared Earth Stars.

Andrew and the soggy wellie incident.

Water spilling out onto the fen now that the stream has been dammed and filled with cut reeds.

Velvet Shank.

Rod issues his rallying cry.

Carolyn and Kevin had the most important detail of the session.

A pile of cut vegetation shuffles across the fen.

Joanna taking her responsibilities very seriously.

Is it home time yet?

Pink is the new green.


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