Where Ousels Dare

Ousel’s Nest Quarry LNR, Chapletown Road, Bolton. 2nd, 9th, and 16th August 2020

First we were 6, then we were 10, then along comes local lockdown and we’re 6 again. Covid came once more with a pocketful of posies but this time we didn’t fall down and our planned work on the Ousel’s Nest meadow continued with 6 safe volunteers.

We have been working at Ousel’s Nest Quarry, part of Jumbles Country Park, since 2014. The site is looked after by Sam Kitchen for the Wildlife Trust and hosts a range of species including damselflies, dragonflies, frogs, toads, yellow rattle, orchids, knapweed, numerous birds but oddly no ring ousels. At one time the meadow was much richer and Sam’s aim is to restore it to its original state.

Yellow Rattle
Yellow Rattle
Hybrid spotted orchid
Orchid
Knapweed

Wildflowers meadows provide important nectar sources for bees, butterflies, hoverflies, and moths but they can become dominated by grasses, reducing the meadow’s diversity. To reduce the prevalence of grasses on this site BCV have used yellow rattle, a hemi-parasitic wildflower that literally drains coarse grass species of nutrient by entwining itself if the grass’s root system, weakening its growth. Over time the grass’ vitality is reduced and wildflowers have more of a fighting chance to recover.

2nd August 2020 involved mowing the meadow and removing the cuttings to reduce nutrient, improving conditions for wildflowers the rarest of which prefer low nutrient soils. The team also collected yellow rattle seeds to re-sow at a later date.

9th August 2020 – Today’s task was mostly raking up the grass cut down by Tom and Clayton the day before. More cutting was done by Dave and Clayton using Tom’s new toy but this time just the balsam. Although there was only 6 of us we managed to clear most of the meadow of mown grass which means less nutrient being returned to the soil.

16 August 2020 – Last time out on this epic task. Today our fearsome six bashed balsam, moved grass and cut up a fallen tree. But what to do with all the bits? The solution was to build a hibernaculum, a hotel for amphibians to hibernate in over the winter. 2000 years ago a Hibernaculum was a winter camp for Roman legionnaires today its a winter palace for frogs and toads. Well done team, the meadow should look great next year.

Photos: 2nd Aug – Caroline Bruce, 9th Aug – Colin Mather, 16th – Gill Whelan
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