Blue Flower

UPDATE Both our grant funded projects are now complete with all funds spent. A couple of Green Grant jobs will spill over into the new year, apart from that the work is finished. The Wildflower Meadow will need ongoing maintenance but the grant funded work is complete.

There was no work party on Thursday 15/12/22 as nearly all the volunteers were unavailable. I worked from home on 14/12/22, ordering the last items of bird food for the Green Grant and filling in the spreadsheet of costs, I also started working on the end of grant report for Breckland Council.

Thursday 22/12/22  We took the final grant purchases to the mill which were suet balls and peanuts for the birds, spare water bowls for the bird feeding station, Swan food and a rake. We lit the fire in the wagon as it was cold again, there was still ice on the ground in places.

Eddie transferred suet balls and peanuts into our sealed containers, then filled the bird feeders. Squirrels had chewed a hole through the wire mesh of a peanut feeder so Ryan cut off the damaged part and refitted the base, this was filled with peanuts and put on the feeding station.

The track at the entrance to the mill has been very slippery since moving the container, so Ryan and I broke up some firebricks from my old storage heater, added a bag of rubble I brought today and tipped it all in the mud to try and prevent us getting stuck.

Emma joined us and cleared the area near the compost bay of nettles, weeds and debris. There were bags of logs there which Emma put beside the logstore. Emma left some sacks of rubble near her car, so Ryan and I went back to get them, added some broken tiles from the skip area, took it all back and tipped it in the muddy entrance, but it still needs more rubble which I will bring next time.

Ryan and I made a viewing window for the covered brick floor in the wildflower area so part of the floor can be seen. I cut a Perspex window from my old summerhouse to size and Ryan cut wood for the surround.

Emma used the binoculars and spotted an Owl on the fence in the field next to the mill, I went across as close as possible to get a photo. Eddie identified it as a Barn Owl using the book which Anne Marie gave us. We have a Barn Owl box at the mill so its good to know they are nearby.

When I got back from taking Owl pictures, Ryan had finished making the wooden surround for the brick floor, so I fitted the Perspex panel on it. We took it over to the brick floor and Ryan cleared soil from the area and found an old nail. Eddie swept and washed the bricks, I put the display panel over it and Ryan put soil back around it.

Ryan noticed the end of the gutter had come away from the back of the visitor centre and was not feeding into the water butt, so he went round and clipped it back in place. We saw the Cygnet in the river again, we forgot we now have Swan food which we could have given to it.

We saw a flock of Siskins flying around, then they landed in the trees, we couldn't identify them until I got home and enhanced the photos. We have Nyger seed feeders at the mill which Siskins eat, Goldfinches which we regularly see on site, and Redpolls also eat Nyger seed. Bird food and feeders are part of our Green Grant.

Eddie fitted two storage tubs on the inside of the shed door for gloves and small garden tools, this will make it easier to find them instead of looking through large buckets with a lot of other things trying to find tools like trowels and secateurs which are frequently used.

The Christmas decoration has now been put on the field in front of the holiday cottages at The Maltings and it looks good lit up in the dark. Happy Christmas to everyone involved and interested in the bone mill, wherever you are.

Summary of 2022 This has been a busy year, we started the wildflower meadow project which transformed a wasteland area into a landscape, the adjacent brick floor was also covered with soil and sown with seeds, the whole area should flower in Spring 2023. We bought all the equipment needed to create and maintain the wildflower meadow, plus insect hotels and a picnic bench. We replaced the shipping container with a wooden shed which we built using a lot of re-used materials, to give better views of the meadow.

The Green Community Grant involved installing nest boxes for many species of birds, reptiles and mammals, some have nest cameras and we were able to watch Great Tits and Jackdaws raise their chicks. We installed multimedia screens and illuminated shelves, all powered by solar panels. We bought cycle pumps, tools and repair kits and fitted a cycle rack which was used at the open days. We have a logstore, log splitter and battery chainsaw to supply logs for wildlife habitat and our woodburner stove, we also have re-cycle bins and water butts as part of the Green Grant. Recently we made an insect habitat for the visitor centre wall.

We re-arranged the layout of our visitor centre and added a new room with recent finds on display, plus slideshows and pictures of our work creating the wildflower meadow.

Our open days in May and September were well attended, we had the water wheel turning over all four days and the weather was good, we repaired our seized swinging footbridge just in time for the open days. 

We had a recruitment drive which brought us two more volunteers, Anne Marie who does lots of gardening & weeding and donated a bird identification book, and Ryan who joins us during school holidays and weekends doing a variety of jobs helping with our projects and giving metal detecting demonstrations at the open days.

We hardly had to cut the grass this year due to the drought, which allowed us to focus more on our two projects. Eddie and I both had injuries which prevented us working for around two months, so the grant end dates were extended to enable us to complete the projects.

In February we used our battery chainsaw to clear fallen trees from the Nar Valley Way public footpath which was completely blocked, we put the logs aside for wildlife habitat. On 1/1/22 we were given a historic picture of Airmen from Narborough Aerodrome swimming in the river in 1917. Hundreds of trees have been planted along the river bank including many at the mill this year.

Next year we will install a Kingfisher nest tunnel in the river bank and repair the brickwork ends of the tunnels in the bypass channel. Both these jobs were part of the Green Grant but need frost free weather.

Graham Bartlett  

Interactive Plan     Activity      Green Grant     Wildflower Meadow     Volunteer      Previous  Next

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