Quantock Hills Blog

Sunny Survey Days

- What a difference a week can make. Last week it was a challenge to get into the office, this week it is t-shirt weather LOL

Iain Porter

Posted by Iain Porter on 01 February 2013

Sunny Survey Days Much of my role is about planning the work that the AONB team will be doing for the year. This includes writing Business Plans and project planning, which it has to be said is not the glamorous side of the job.

However as part of this I do get out on the ground to look at the work that is required, whether this is planning the swaling sites on the common or looking at the work needed on Cothelstone Hill. I was supposed to start this last week but the weather got in the way. So today was the first I managed to get out, first onto the northern common. It was beautiful with the sun shinning though there was still signs of the damage caused by the snow and water with new gullies formed on some of the tracks. I was checking a swaling (heather burning) site near Smiths Combe, an area I love as it feels so remote, when 3 snipe went up. A great bird to see on the heathland. Later a small flock of Fieldfares went through, one of our winter visitors. Unfortunately the swaling site has suffered with Heather Beetle so I will be getting advice on the best way to manage it.

In the afternoon I headed south onto Cothelstone Hill, where I met up with Owen, our Partnership Ranger and the QCV (Quantock countryside Volunteers). They were doing a great job repairing the corral and removing some sycamore scrub. Cothelstone Hill has just entered a new 10-year Management Agreement and this is the exciting point, planning what we are going to do. Some of the work will involve repairing the scheduled monuments but mostly we will be looking to manage the scrub and trees to encourage birds, butterflies and bats to use the hill. Already it seems to be working with Linnets, Yellowhammer and flocks of finches darting around.

It is a great opportunity to catch up with the volunteers and seek their views on what we are doing as well. We have a great dedicated group who are not just volunteering but also using the hills and they are a great source of knowledge, such as being told of a flock of snow buntings being seen last week (that means it was really cold).  Days like today are a wonderful, seeing all the good work that is being done by landowners, commoners, volunteers and the AONB team, but also planning the exciting work for the year ahead – oh and also getting to see some of the wonderful wildlife that make this area Outstanding.


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