As we swing from autumn into winter there is a whiff of change in the air. The first frosts have seen an end to most insect life for the year and the grass has finally stopped growing. It's time to get the cows off the meadow and send them home.
Tree planting and scrub bashing can begin in earnest. One of our projects this year is to replace sections of dead hedge with living plants. A huge delivery of whips, stakes and guards arrived today but we have already started planting using leftovers from last year.
On Sunday the McAdam family held their annual gathering in Rory's Wood. The two brass plaques were polished and an eager work party set forth. Last year we planted a grove of hazel trees and this time we planted a living hedge along parts of the ride.
It may seem strange to be planting and cutting things down at the same time, but different parts of the Reserve have different conservation targets. In grassland meadows we don't want trees but in hedgerows, scrub-land and woods we do. "Variety is the spice of life" they say, not only in the human world, but in nature too. A mix of habitats is bound to produce more species, as long as the area of each habitat is big enough to be sustainable from year to year.
Winter also provides a window of opportunity to build and repair the apparatus that the modern public expects on a reserve. The Visitor Centre is getting a makeover on the outside and a new hide is being built off the Haul Road opposite Rory's Wood. The walls went up today. The hide should be open in the spring.
The biggest item of news is that the quarry is going to reopen by the spring. Work has begun on repairs at the sorting plant, offices and weigh-bridge and new equipment arrives every day. We are delighted that work has resumed because this should bring access to the northern pits within our grasp. If you are regular visitor, look out for an increase in traffic, leading up to queues of lorries once they start selling gravel.
The Friends of Paxton Pits have a programme of winter events for you to join in. The next one is on Wednesday December 2nd at 2:30 when Ann Scott will tell us about a Christmas spent in Poland. Although the trip was mainly to see birds and wildlife, Ann was equally fascinated by the people and their traditions. Get there early if you want to sit down!