I haven't added up the figures for the year yet, but this is the time to stock-check 2011 and think about an annual report. I must say, it's been a mixed year for me and I'm not too sad to see it gone!
|Just add water.|
Dried up silt lagoon at the works.
Despite all this and the dismal financial forecasts on the BBC, I see signs for optimism at Paxton Pits. The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve goes from strength to strength and they make a huge contribution to what we do here. In fact, this year they have been able to allow us to make progress instead of just marking time.
In April 2012, the Countryside Services section that we work in will be amalgamated with Parks to become "Greenspaces", headed up by John Craig. That's all we know at the moment, but a review will begin in February to produce a strategy for the new department. This could be seen as a threat but, given that we are still committed to an extension here and that the pressure on all our sites continues to build because of new housing projects nearby, we expect to have an expanding work program for the foreseeable future.
If you look up our Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on the Natural England Website, you will see that this year its condition was posted as "unsatisfactory". At first we were a bit miffed about this, but let me explain what it's about:
|Removing shade from the banks of Cloudy Pit|
will benefit invertebrates.
So, if you look from the boardwalk, across the meadow to Cloudy Pit you will see that we have started work on restoring the open shoreline. We are only taking out willows and hawthorns, leaving the alders, brambles and any dead trees to provide some places for birds. Work at Washout Pit is more problematic and may take some years to complete.
|New Ranger office? Matt Johnson christens the new composting toilet.|
Copies of this photo (for use in blackmail etc) are available on request.
Our workshop area (once known as "the Snakepits") has no water or electricity but we do have a new composting toilet there. Ranger Matt Johnson and his team of latrine-duty volunteers finished building it this week.
|Assessing habitat for Dipteran flies|
with staff from Natural England and Bardon Aggregates.
This site is the UK headquarters for a rare green leafhopper.
"It can jump this high".
Now the forecast is for colder nights and a bit of a freeze-up in Europe, so I would hope for even more birds to arrive soon. I really hope so because I've promised people over 50 species on New Year's Day. The idea is that you turn up at 10 am and I will take you for a walk around the Heron Trail. It's free, but for every species I show you, you have to pay me 10p. Please have your fiver's ready! I reckon a smew, a kingfisher or a goosander should be worth £5 alone. Otters are extra!
Have a good holiday.