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Broom Removal at Ballinlaggan Saturday 4th February 2023

This was the first Highland branch work party of 2023, and it was a great turn-out. 10 BC volunteers, 2 BC staff and 2 Cairngorms National Park volunteers gave us a total of 14 willing bodies! There could have been more, but I limited the numbers because I was concerned that I would have more people than tools. However, I needn’t have worried because I borrowed extra tree poppers from RSPB so that on the day, I had 17 tree poppers at my disposal. I’m sure that’s a record for the greatest number of poppers together on one site!

Starting Work

Starting work

After introductions, we split into two groups. Hilary oversaw one group, whose job was to create clearings in amongst a mature stand of broom, along with clearing broom regeneration from along the line of her UKBMS butterfly transect. Hopefully, the clearings will create butterfly-friendly pockets of warmer micro-climate.

 

At the other end of the reserve, Pete and colleagues cleared regenerating broom from a sloping bank overlooking the marsh. Removal of the broom here serves two purposes. Firstly, it will prevent shading out of flowers, and we hope will encourage the spread of rock-rose, which is the foodplant for northern brown argus butterfly, a priority species for Butterfly Conservation. Secondly, removal of cover will encourage nesting wading birds, like lapwings, on the adjacent marsh. It is known that nesting waders tend to avoid dense cover in which predators may hide.

 

At the end of the day, we had cleared and burned about 350 m of broom. Steady light rain set in from mid-afternoon but by then most of the cutting and popping had been done and we had bonfires to cheer us up.

 Poppered Broom

Poppered Broom 

Ewan spotted a ruby tiger caterpillar and Tom pointed out several larvae of the micro-moth Agonopterix assimilella, which feeds on broom. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of broom remaining for this and other broom-feeding moths known to be on the site, such as the rare Broom-tip.

It was great to see many familiar faces and a few new faces too, and we welcomed Tracy Munro, the new BC Species on The Edge Officer, to her first BC work party! The first of many!

                               Pete Moore

 

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