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Sunday Work Party

The Sunday Work Party Programme for 2016/17.
Feel free to join us in these varied wildlife management activities 
● No previous experience is needed. 
● We’ll show you how to do the work. 
● Range of tasks to suit all abilities, energies and ages. 
● Meet new friends who also enjoy wildlife and the open air. 
● Find out how management benefits wildlife. 

Your work will make Paxton Pits an even better place for wildlife!

These Working Parties are organised by the Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve and supported by Huntingdonshire District Council Countryside Services and Aggregate Industries Ltd

Please NoteWorking Parties are run under conditions set by Huntingdonshire District Council.

Volunteers must be aged 16 years or over.
With one exception (5th March 2017) all work parties start at 9.30 a.m. at the Visitors’ Centre and go through to somewhere around 1.00 p.m.
Work parties with a (Q) notation are accessed through the quarry so you need to be at the Visitors’ Centre by 0930 to pick up transport. There is no other access to the quarry.

Bad weather alert system. Sometimes we have to cancel work parties at short notice due mainly to the wet weather making conditions unworkable. We operate an email alert system where a note will be sent on Friday or Saturday if there is a probability of cancellation. If you wish to be alerted in this way please make sure we have your email address.
If you have any questions concerning this Programme, please contact Mike Thomas (01480 387749), Iain Gunn (01480 472041) or Trevor Coughlan ( If you’d like to volunteer during the week, contact Jim Stevenson (01480 406795).

Health & Safety
Many of us are aware of the increasing emphasis on health and safety issues in this modern world. This applies as much to the volunteer work that we do as to anything else. Some of the precautions we need to take are obviously dependent on what we are doing and on the site itself. However there are a number of precautions that are universal and are listed below.
Remember - do not work alone.
Wear clothes that protect you against the weather, including sun and the work e.g. skin abrasions, cuts, dust, plant sap, flying debris.
Use boots that protect and support with a good tread, preferably with steel toecaps. Wellies if needed.
Only attempt what you are personally capable of. Work at a rate that matches your own level of fitness.
Slips & Trips
Check for uneven ground, steep slopes, wet ground, dense ground vegetation, accumulated debris, trenches and holes.
If you don’t know how to use a specific handtool ask the leader. Pay particular attention to the condition of blade and handle. Grip is reduced if wet or using gloves!
Be aware of what’s happening around you; allow plenty of room. Make sure a fellow volunteer is aware of your approach into their workspace. Use voice warnings.
Ensure wounds stay clean. Cover wound and wear gloves. Make sure your anti-tetanus is up to date.
Always lift and carry safely. Use arms and legs and not the back.
Use arms and legs, and not the back. Stop when tired.
Sunday 2nd October- Hayling Carr pond
We did a bit of experimental willow clearance in and around this pond in 2014 and this appears to have had a beneficial effect with the increased light levels encouraging more plant growth which in turn brings in more insects. More of the same today.
Sunday 16th October- Washout/Island Pits bund (Q)
Today we will be working next to the quarry processing area to remove regrowth from the bund between Washout and Island pits. We maintain this area at the request of Natural England as an important habitat for invertebrates.
Sunday 6th November- Great Crested Newt pond (Q)
Although Great crested newts are a European protected species they do rather well on the Reserve and in the quarry. There is a pond in the quarry that is an important habitat for these amphibians. Whilst we try to minimise disturbance to this area, we need to manage the encroaching willows to maintain the habitat.
Sunday 20th November- Exclosure repair and management 
Over the last year or so a number of exclosures have been built in the Sanctuary and in East Scrub. The aim of this is to exclude rabbits to allow nightingale habitat to develop. Today we will continue to check the fences, clear the inside perimeter and do a little bit of tree work.
Sunday 4th December- Washout and Island Pits viewpoint clearance (Q)
We periodically clear these viewpoints on the edge of these pits to allow visitors to have a better view and to allow our Wetland Bird Survey (WeBs) team to have a full view to count the birds on the water.
Sunday 8th January- Gully
A recent survey by a freshwater aquatic invertebrate expert showed a rather disappointing number of species in the Gully and it was ‘suggested’ that we do something about it. So we are!
Sunday 22nd January- Adders-tongue fern exclosure
Recent work to allow more light into this area had produced increased numbers of this rare plant but holes in the fence have made them susceptible to browsing by rabbits.
Today we will be repairing the fence, removing excess growth from inside the exclosure and, if time permits, further enlarging the open area on the outside.
Sunday 5th February- Hedge planting
The Reserve has ambitious plans to replace dead-hedging with a living hedgerow habitat. Not sure yet where we will be planting.
Sunday 19th February- Willow coppicing on Hayling Lake
Today will be a continuation of the willow control programme in and around the reed bed. Hayling Lake is now one of the highlights on the Reserve as it is a breeding site for the rare Norfolk Hawker dragonfly.
Sunday 5th March- Sailing Lake Islands
The regulars amongst us will notice that this project has moved from early January. This is part of an experiment to look at whether we can treat the bramble regrowth before it gets the chance to dominate the islands. The annual mowing and vegetation control on the two islands is to maintain the right habitat for a common tern colony and nesting waders and gulls.
(For this work party meet in the Sailing Club car park. Wellies useful for getting in and out of the boat. We thank Paxton Lakes Sailing Club for support for this work.)
Sunday 23rd April- Orchid Enclosure
We have a small area of orchids in the grass between the north end of the Sanctuary and Washout Pit. At the moment these are protected from rabbit browsing by some somewhat ineffective cages so we will be replacing these with a proper enclosure.
Sunday 11th June- Himalayan Balsam
Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is an invasive species weed that outcompetes native plants. We have a regular influx from plants brought down the river that set into the river banks. As well as smothering other plants it also weakens the river bank.
Sunday 2nd July- Ragwort
It is important for us to remove ragwort from the meadows we want to cut for hay Cattle and horses do not normally eat fresh ragwort due to its bitter taste but it loses this taste when dried and can become a danger in hay due to its high alkaloid content.