Two Pines Fen, Monday 6th December 2021

This blogpost was written by leader, Sally Gillard:

On Monday, 6 December we returned to Two Pine Fen on Frilford Heath Golf Course SSSI in an attempt to finish the autumn cut and rake of this alkaline fen which is bordered by two golf courses so we can really only do this safely by arrangement with the green-keeping staff, who kindly shut one of the holes on the green course and moved the 16th tee on the red course.

The weather forecast was not at all promising, but luckily the heavy downpour that we thought we would be in for did not materialise and we managed to shrug off the light showers, but as Jake, one of the staff said, "You never pick good weather!"
We worked under Rod D'Ayala's directions to prioritise scything and raking where we had left off the previous Monday, but we also needed to clear the "triangle" area on the green course side of the fen, which is home to the exquisitely beautiful "Grass of Parnassus" (which is not a grass at all!)  Another task was to remove willow and birch scrub, which is beginning to encroach onto the fen.
Whilst the rakers started raking up the arisings left from last Monday, the scythers set about cutting the rank area of vegetation near to the red course, which was lying every which way and not easy going at all!  We managed to scythe around the sprouting willows to make it easier for them to be cut down and dug out using the mattock; finding stray golf balls all the while!
Rod joined us to give a hand with tidying up the heaped reed between the two log dams in the stream and it was not long before we stopped for  breaktime and a welcome tea or coffee and a snack.  Soon, the pile of reed in the stream was too high, so at lunchtime, Rod started to rake off the top of the pile and draw it down the sides to really pack it in.  
Fortified by our refreshments, the hardy group of 9 made up of Green Gymmers and friends then continued our efforts until lunchtime.  We were very glad of our lunch break, but did not want to stop long as there was rather a chilly edge to the breeze when it blew.  We soon warmed up and managed to find the runnel that Rod had dug last year and gave it a good raking over.  
Only the most intrepid of golfers braved the weather and a couple of them stopped for a chat to find out what we were doing and why, which was great.  It is lovely that they appreciate the display of orchids in the late spring.
We had hoped to completely clear the fen but the 10 of us did very well - as Eleanor D left, we were joined by Elizabeth, who was keen to learn about this rare habitat.
It was important to do a fine rake, so we made sure we allowed enough time to do this before we sowed some marsh lousewort seeds, taken from plants grown on the adjacent Boundary House Fen, in the hope that they will germinate and the plants will then parasitise reed by sucking out the sugars (in a similar way that yellow rattle acts on rye grass), which had been entrusted to us by Judy Webb.
All in all, we had a super day and look forward to returning if we can organise another midweek special here later this month or, if not, in the spring for the spring cut.
A huge thanks to everyone who turned out today - a few of whom had given up a day's leave.  And by the time we had packed up, the sun was trying to shine!  Smiles all round!

A tuft of the diminutive black bog rush, with a partial hair cut



















The fen at the end of the day after our hard work.  For heaps of reed, read heaps of fun!




Close up of the magnificent 7 who stayed until the end

"Judy's" precious rare sphagnum moss patch - believed to be the second largest in the county










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