Quantock Hills Blog

Ranger Bex’s final post

- Ranger Rebekah West leaves the Quantock Hills AONB Service

Rebekah West

Posted by Rebekah West on 17 May 2016

Ranger Bex’s final post Since I arrived to the Quantock Hills in 2014 so much in my life has changed. It took me a little while to get to know this beautiful area and I’ve had so much help with this along the way from many people.

I started to really get into the swing of things, found my trusty lurcher, Moss, lived in a couple of very beautiful settings…and then as happens, met someone significant and moved away from the Quantocks.  For a few months, I’ve been travelling back and forth and the job has been so enjoyable that I felt this was worth keeping up.  Then, a friend told me about a job going with the National Trust which would mean a significant cut to my commute.  It was a very hard choice, but I feel that if we can all cut our car journeys down, we should.  It was also a bit of a step up on the ladder. Therefore, I accepted the offer of the job.  By the time this goes out, I would have left my position as the full time Ranger for the Quantock Hills AONB service.

The times I shall look back on with the fondest memories are the Pied Flycatcher surveys, which are carried out at this time of year.  Pied Flycatchers return from West Africa at the end of May to mate and spend the summer here catching insects on the wing.  There has been surveys going back since the 70’s, with the first boxes put up by Doug Miller.  Therefore carrying these surveys forward has huge significance as there is such a good database of information.  My favourite places in the Quantocks will always be the oak wooded combes and these surveys allowed me to immerse myself in their tranquil beauty.

I also must say that the swaling this year was hugely enjoyable - despite being very stressful at times.  This also coincided with buying and moving into my first house therefore the heat really was on (‘scuse the pun)!  Swaling is an ancient practice of setting fire to controlled sections of heather and gorse in order to strip it back to allow for regeneration.  Although this is a controversial subject, there can be no denial that it allows the heathland to remain as heath, not succeed to woodland.  This in turn ensures that habitat for adders, skylarks and yellowhammers alike is kept at an optimum.  What I enjoyed about the swaling is the camaraderie - working with some fantastic volunteers, reacting quickly if the fire gets away to keep it under control. The fantastic blue skies and dramatic wall of yellow flames makes for some impressive pictures and as the smoke covers the sun, it turns it blood red in colour.

If you would like to be a full time Ranger for the Quantock Hills AONB Service, here is the application link. Closing date is Thursday 26th May http://www1.somerset.gov.uk/jobs/scc/details.asp?rec_no=35925

Thank you to everyone who has made my time here at the Quantocks so enjoyable, the Quantock Hills will always have a special place in my heart, it is a truly wonderful place.

See you all soon I hope.



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