Our local common is maybe nine-tenths close-mown grass. But the remaining tenth, the bit that isn’t a playing field, an exercise area for dogs, a play park or a BMX track, is a precious bit of wildlife habitat being maintained in the face of scrub, ubiquitous litter and threats of invasive development.

Last year's work in the pond
Last year's work in the pond

This weekend the common was the venue for the first of this winter’s conservation tasks. As a result of work by volunteers and the council’s countryside management service, the scrub has been beaten back, and the possibility exists to extend a previously-seasonal pond that has stayed wet all summer thanks to the work done last year.

This little bit of wetland appears to be the remnant of a channel that flowed across from a neaby water meadow – before an arterial road cut the open spaces in two. This weekend some of the silt was scraped back to create a new area of standing water. And plans have been made for future pond digging and vegetation clearance.

Our reward for turning up and helping was to find a whole new area of one of our local open spaces that we didn’t even know was there. And, when it’s improved and extended further, we’ll spend the whole of the rest of the year thinking “we did that – we helped create it.”