Team Building

Simon Winter

Welcome to this week’s blog which sees Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s headquarters staff participate in a team building day at Woodhall Spa Airfield.

We arrive bright and early at Woodhall Spa Airfield. The former World War II base is rich in military history, a home to 617 Squadron’s Dambusters and 627 Squadron’s Pathfinders. Post war, the site was used as an armaments storage facility and then sold in the 1960s for mineral extraction. Side note – during the late 1990s I served with the Territorial Army at the neighbouring Technical Site, the years come flooding back…

Anyway, back to the present – an opportunity to make new memories! We tour the former quarry site and learn of the exciting future ahead. The industrial landscape is slowly being replaced by the natural world. The cacophony of heavy machinery has been replaced by the gentle grazing of livestock. Lincoln Red cattle and Hebridean sheep control scrub areas to boost floral diversity. Elsewhere quarried-out pits now form vast expanses of open water to attract visiting wading birds.

It’s now time to get physical with some ‘hands-on’ conservation work! Woodhall’s Warden Kev, outlines the morning’s activities; reedbed restoration, fencing, hide maintenance and plant collection.

Reedbed before

Reedbed before - Simon Winter

I’m sold on the idea of ‘tree killing’, sorry I meant to say reedbed restoration! There’s a series of reedbeds dating back to the site’s former use as a quarry. Unfortunately, this eco-friendly filtration system is now dominated by willow and birch trees. Armed with wet-wood bowsaws and loppers our work party begins to cutback the undergrowth.

Reedbed after

Reedbed after - Simon Winter

Kev’s golden rule is not to cut any trunk that’s wider than a baked bean can at chest height. Kev’s well over 6 feet tall, whereas I’m 5 feet not a lot. I’m from a long line of short people, so I modify the rule accordingly.

After a couple of hours or so, the reedbed is thinning out quite nicely.

Meanwhile, Catherine joins the fencing party run by Woodhall’s Assistant Warden, Dean. Animal welfare is the top priority of LWT. A large hole within a grazing field urgently requires fencing-off. A stubborn piece of concrete blocks the fence’s natural route, time to adapt, improvise and overcome! Ultimately, the work party constructs a post and rail system capable of protecting the reserve’s Hebridean sheep population for many years to come.

The afternoon’s activity takes the form of a vehicle-based safari around the area’s interconnected reserves. Woodhall Spa’s Airfield proves an emotive experience when driving along the former concrete runway and observing the war memorial. Whilst Kirkby Moor’s rolling waves of heather are a sight to behold.

Kirkby Moor

Kirkby Moor - Jade Oliver

Roughton Moor exhibits a natural woodland which requires little intervention. Whereas, Moor Farm’s woodland has been developed from abandoned pastureland over a period of 80 years. And, finally, Kirkby Gravel Pits offer us the chance to see a seasonal variety of birds from around the world.

The day proves hugely enjoyable and successful. If only we could close the office more often to engage with the natural world…

Simon