Nest Boxes, aplenty!

This past week has marked the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) National Nest Box Week. In 2017 the scheme is in its 20th year.

It aims to encourage everyone to put up nest boxes in their local area in order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our breeding birds and wildlife – whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or in our case, a ranger team!

We’ve been out putting lots of nest boxes up on our own patch.

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Over 50 so far in 2017! All made by ourselves, mostly by our skillful volunteers.

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Our volunteers have also helped us put them up. We started by replacing some old/faulty nest boxes in Newton Wood, Roseberry Topping.


The National Trust have been monitoring the nest boxes here for over 10 years and we continue to keep records of the species we find using them. A particular species of note breeding in Newton Wood is the Redstart, a species on the decline in Europe. We hope to continue to encourage it to breed here, with the nest boxes providing suitable habitation.

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We also went on to put up some nest boxes in Stork Wood, in Bransdale.

Last year, Pied Flycatcher bred here. These African migrants arrive back in Britain in April, taking up residence within open woodland. We hope to encourage them to use the nest boxes too, so we can monitor their populations.

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All of the boxes in Stork Wood have been added to the BTO Nest Box Challenge – so we can share our findings with the BTO.

It’s not too late to get involved yourself. You can put up nest boxes at any time of the year. The BTO website has lots of tips on doing so. Why not join us in the BTO Nest Box Challenge too?

Later in the year, we’ll update you on how well our nest boxes in Newton Wood and Stork Wood fare…

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Chris | National Trust

 

World Ranger Day

It is World Ranger Day this weekend (Sunday 31st July).

World Ranger Day is a day to celebrate the passion, hard work and determination of Rangers around the world.

It is also a day to commemorate rangers killed or injured in the line of duty – 107 in the last 12 months!

World Ranger Day is observed annually on the 31st of July, and is promoted by the 63 member associations of the International Ranger Federation, by their partner the Thin Green Line Foundation, and by individuals who support the work of Rangers and the IRF.

Our Rangers, Chris, Jonny & Gareth were amongst many rangers around the world to show their support.

 

Here’s a message from Sean Wilmore, President of the International Ranger Federation:World Ranger Day Cover Letter 2016_v2

And finally, here’s a short video which shows rangers the world over showing their pride in the amazing and vital job they do!

To see more of those who showed their support in the run up to today and for further information regarding World Ranger Day, go to the International Ranger Federation website HERE or their Facebook page HERE.

‪#‎worldrangerday #standwithrangers #naturesprotectors #internationalrangerfederation #thingreenlinefoundation‬

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Chris | National Trust

World Ranger Congress in Colorado

Back in February I received some very exciting news – that I have been chosen to represent the National Trust at this years World Ranger Congress in Colorado, USA (!!!).

Taking place in May, the Congress will be based at the Estes Park Centre in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Organised by the International Ranger Federation (IRF), this triannual event (previously held in Tanzania, Bolivia, Australia, South Africa, Costa Rica, Poland & Scotland!) brings together delegates from 60+ countries to explore the various ways rangers and protected area professionals are actively protecting and preserving the world’s natural and cultural resources from ever-increasing threats like climate change and poaching. It also acts as a forum for fellow rangers to meet and share experiences.

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I have no doubt that it will be an invaluable experience – an opportunity to learn new skills, share knowledge and create lasting partnerships (and friends!). Being a ranger is something I’m incredibly proud of, and I think it will be very inspiring to meet other rangers from around the world, and find out first hand what they get up to in their roles.

Not satisfied with that – after the Congress I will be staying in the USA, travelling to the Pinnacles National Park for 3 days of volunteering with their ranger team.


This will involve patrols with one of their Law Enforcement Rangers, working with their Education and Interpretation Team, meeting their Wildlife Biologist and getting involved with their California Condor reintroduction programme.

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I will keep an online diary whilst I am away, sharing my experience through the DAY IN THE LIFE OF A RANGER blog. So keep tuned for further updates!

Now, as some have suggested, it might be worth learning about these before I go…

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Chris | National Trust

 

A new hedge at Roseberry Topping

In October last year I was successful in a grant application to the North York Moors National Park as part of their Traditional Boundary Scheme.

Our application focused on planting a new hedge, following a 700 metre stretch of our boundary at Roseberry Topping.

With over 4,200 trees to plant, the task was no small undertaking. At the start of January, with help from our volunteer John, we started on the first section, quickly getting to grips with the hedge planting routine yet barely scratching the surface of what needed to be done.

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The first section of hedge after being measured out in 1 metre sections

 

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And the planting begins…

We needed some extra hands!

I called on the help of a range of volunteers from different organisations to help us complete the hedge.

Some facts and figures:

  • 29 different volunteers helped plant the hedge, with time given from the North York Moors HOBS group, a Ordnance Survey work party and our very own National Trust Midweek volunteers and Sunday volunteers
  • That equates to about 318.5 hours of hard work from volunteers, or 49 work days
  • With help from 3 members of staff, a total of 461.5 hours of individual work was undertaken
  • We planted over 4,200 trees, put in 4,200 stakes and wrapped around 4,200 spiral tree guards over 700 meters of our boundary
  • That equated to 86 bundles of trees, 17 bags of stakes and 17 boxes of guards, hefted up and over muddy footpaths to site, that’s without the additional tools necessary for the job
  • 2,940 Hawthorn, 420 Blackthorn, 252 Hazel, 210 Dog Rose, 126 Guelder Rose, 126 Field Maple, 126 Crab Apple and 20 Sessile Oak were planted
  • All materials for the project cost just over £2,000
  • We also created 20 habitat piles close to the new hedge using brash taken from existing trees in the hedgeline, which will allow light into the new trees but also provide additional valuable habitat
  • And finally, to keep us going we ate two batches of Alan’s Peanut Slice, some of Gill’s Potato & Pesto Roll, Chris’ Banana Loaf, Margaret’s birthday Fruit Loaf, along with a box of Fox’s Biscuits, a box of Cadbury Roses and a box of Nestle Quality Street. I thought I was putting on weight…

At any opportunity, I think it’s important to praise the help we receive from our volunteers. As always, we couldn’t do what we do without you.

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North York Moors National Park HOBS group

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Ordnance Survey work party

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National Trust Sunday Volunteers

 


Through snow, rain and sunshine, smiles, groans and laughter, hard graft, thorned fingers and heavy calorie consumption – we finally completed the hedge in early February, just over one month after John and I started.

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Alan, from the National Park’s HOBS group had the honour of planting the last tree

And so, what was the reason for planting the hedge?

Traditional field boundaries, specifically dry stones walls and hedges, are a major part of the landscape character of the North York Moors National Park. The purpose of the National Park’s scheme is to encourage these to be managed or restored.

Specifically with the hedge at Roseberry Topping, there is evidence of a previous, older hedge having been in place along part of the current boundary, with a number of mature, sparsely grown Hawthorn trees along its way. We wanted to re-instate this historic feature.

Also, the wildlife value of creating a new hedge will be considerably huge, creating shelter, food, nesting spots and valuable habitat for a huge range of species – from flowers and insects, to birds and small mammals. It will also form a wildlife corridor, allowing species to move between different habitats and allowing the continuation of viable populations.

Finally, with the hedge being alongside a public footpath, we can take a walk alongside it and enjoy it individually, seeing it establish over the coming years!

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Chris | National Trust

Gone in a flash

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This autumn has flown by! ‘Time flies when you’re having fun‘ comes to mind. Or maybe, ‘Time flies when you’re busy at work (and having fun)‘. Day to day tasks as a Ranger can vary, with certain jobs necessary on a weekly, monthly and seasonal basis. This autumn, as always,  has seen us carry out a huge variety of different jobs…

Back in September, we began work on the management of our lime-rich pasture at Bridestones. This enclosed area of grassland on Bridestones Moor is special due to it being a unique habitat, where a number of notable species can be found. Our job was to cut and rake the area to make sure the grassland species can continue to flourish.

We carried out some small mammal trapping at Sonley Wood in Farndale in September too, as part of our on-going wildlife surveys there. These surveys can help us determine how we manage certain areas.

In Bransdale, we have spent a bit of time helping to repair and rejuvenate some of our tenanted properties that are currently empty, so they can be re-leased in the future. This involved re-building the wall below, but also lots of grass cutting, weeding and general tidying up.

Autumn is the time of year that we clean out and repair our birdboxes at Roseberry Topping, ready for spring. Our chief birdbox surveyor is our volunteer John…

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Chris putting up a new birdbox

We also started a new project at Roseberry Topping, to replace the long flight of steps in Newton Wood that form part of the main route up to the summit from the car park at Newton-under-Roseberry. See Jonny’s blog post HERE for more information.

In October, I went on a Tree Safety Management training course, ran by the National Trust at Fountains Abbey. I learnt how to survey trees to detect potential problems, how to mitigate against issues that could arise and when to take action.

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Gathered around a tree at Fountains Abbey as part of the Tree Safety Management course

Putting this into practice, we made a start on our annual tree surveys for the year in November, subsequently taking out some dangerous trees on tenanted properties in Bransdale, as well as dealing with issues arising after the heavy winds in October!

Over the last few months we have spent a few days down at Ravenscar on the Yorkshire coast, helping out the ranger team there with a few tasks – including some post and rail fencing at the Peak Alum Works, and some specially built timber steps on a footpath that had become quite treacherous. 

Another task which we begin at this time of year is scrub clearance. We have areas that we manage at both Roseberry Topping and Bridestones were scrub is removed to conserve and protect a particular habitat. In November we had our super group of volunteers from the National Park’s HOBS out, helping us tackle scrub on Bridestones Moor.

As always we make sure we get out on all of our sites as often as possible, keeping them clean, tidy and litter free for everyone to enjoy.

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Jonny doing a spot of litter picking

Finally, and most recently, we have been cracking on with a large scale fencing repair job at Bridestones. With this, like most of our tasks, we couldn’t get done what we do without the help of our volunteer team…

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The Three Amigos – volunteers John, Mick and Fraser, as happy as ever!

Let’s keep our fingers crossed winter will keep us just as busy, and just as happy!

 

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Chris | National Trust

Keeping the sheep at bay

Sheep are pretty clever. At least, some of the time. Keeping them within a certain area can sometimes be harder then you would think. Sheep filled with (shear) determination and ideas of escape can usually turn on their supersheep strength at will, along with their pogo stick legs, to bounce off, over, on and through boundary walls and fences.

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Sheep tricks

Recently, we have been having issues with sheep escaping on a particular boundary wall at Roseberry Topping. So the team have been out to try and solve the problem.

The wall in question is on Newton Moor, and runs parallel with the Cleveland Way National Trail. From it, you get some pretty impressive views of the surrounding area, including Roseberry Topping itself.

A super view!

A super view!

Newton Moor also comes into its own at this time of year – the heather bloom turns the landscape awash with purple and the panoramic views are spectacular.


Not a bad place to work!

To begin with, we made a start on patching up the wall in places where it had collapsed. With the help of the North York Moors National Park HOBS group and our own handy volunteers we soon got the wall in a much better condition.

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Our super vols after patching up a bit of wall. Only Alan dare be on the same side as the sheep.

Repair to the dry-stone wall alone was not enough though. Even after repairing the worst of the damage, at much of its length the wall is lower in height than is generally ideal. As I mentioned before, sheep have a knack at escaping and with the stones in the wall also providing a convenient footing when needed, sheep can scramble and then launch themselves into the air, sometimes causing the wall to collapse in the process. It’s a pretty amazing sight, but one we’re definitely trying to discourage…

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A member of the Wool Tang Clan, eyeing an escape.

So, to finish the objective of sheep-proofing the boundary, we then decided to install a half-netting fence alongside the wall to act as an extra deterrent whilst also adding some additional height. A wall and a fence, a-ha! – surely there’s no sheep brave enough to tackle that?

Again, with the help of our volunteers we soon had the fence installed.

We’re confident this’ll do the trick and solve our problems. However, never underestimate sheep. This story may contin-ewe…

Jonny: What happens if a sheep gets stuck in the fence?                                                                 Chris: Another sheep will say “I will get ewe out”. © Mick Garratt

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Chris | National Trust

Chris | National Trust

It’s good to be back!

It’s good to be back on the A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A RANGER blog!

After spending two years living and working on the National Trust’s Lanhydrock estate in Cornwall, I have returned back up north to work for the Trust as a Ranger, here in the beautiful North York Moors. I began my career here as an Academy Ranger back in 2011.

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Back in October 2011, learning to hedgelay

It’s nice to return to where it all started for me. Coming back has made me appreciate just how amazing this part of the world really is!

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I’ve been very busy so far, time has really flown over since I began in May. I’ve been getting to know the sites we manage again (which have slightly changed since I was last here). There are those sites I was already familiar with from my previous time working for the team, including one of my favourite places in the world, Roseberry Topping. And then there are the sites which are quite new to me – Bransdale and Bridestones.

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Roseberry Topping

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Exploring Bridestones

Re-acquainting with old colleagues/volunteers, as well as new, has also been especially rewarding – the team here are truly ace and I look forward to working together as we continue to manage our wonderful places into the future.

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So, keep your eyes peeled for more posts from me covering what we’re getting up to on the property!

Chris.

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Chris | National Trust

Chris | National Trust