Nightingale project - Summer update
An update of our Nightingale Project
Published: 22nd Sep 2022
Thanks to the funding received from the National Lottery's Heritage Fund for our Nightingale Project, work has continued on site to encourage this rare and elusive bird to become resident on our reserve. The project also aims to promote the conservation of wildlife at Carymoor generally and encourage volunteering to help people’s wellbeing.
Over the winter (2021-2022) 230 m of ancient hedge along the reserve boundary was ‘layed’ by our many regular volunteers and small stretches of new hedges were planted along ‘Duck Alley’ in Upper Dauncy and on the bank behind the Sensory garden. The hedges are really important features of the Carymoor reserve providing nest sites, food and shelter for birds, invertebrates and small mammals. The rare brown hairstreak butterfly lays its eggs on the base of the thorns on the blackthorn and a female was recorded near a hedge on the landfill in August by Julian Rawlings on his weekly butterfly survey.
During the winter and early spring, our volunteers also helped with coppicing willow and restablishing an 8 year coppice rotation in one of the willow plots and also ‘layering’ hazel in some of the woodland copses to encourage their growth.
‘Ron’s Pond’ tucked away in the SW corner of the Carymoor reserve, had become very overgrown with scrub and reeds and was excavated and reprofiled using a contractor in the early spring. Nightingales like to nest close to areas of open water and it is hoped that this pond, along with the creation of additional nesting habitat will help to entice this rare bird into breeding on the reserve. Within a few years the marginal and deeper water vegetation will develop, providing additional habitat for great crested and smooth newts, kingfishers, grass snakes, toads and the many species of aquatic invertebrates already found in Long Pond. We are also growing some wetland plants such as purple loosestrife and yellow flag iris from seed and these will be planted on the banks of the ponds.
This winter, over 8000 trees (mostly blackthorn and hawthorn but also crab apple, spindle, field maple, birch and alder) will be planted to create a 10.9ha nesting habitat for the Nightingale. During the summer, volunteers helped to prepare the area by unearthing and moving hundreds of recycled car tyres and old tree guards and stakes. The planted trees will also need to be protected from browsing and temporary deer netting will be installed.
Much volunteer time went into managing the meadows at Carymoor, through cutting and raking areas during the summer and autumn to create a mosaic of areas of longer and shorter vegetation with a diverse range of flowering plants. This also encourages a diversity of invertebrates such as beetles, ants, caterpillars, flies and spiders that nightingales and other birds and animals will feed on. Our volunteers also collected seeds from plants such as lady’s bedstraw, black knapweed, birds-foot trefoil and kidney vetch ready to be planted out in areas of meadow with less botanical interest next year.
This project is funded by the Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund was developed by Defra and its Arm's-Length Bodies. It is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.