Blue Flower

Thursday 20/4/23 I took the mower and trailer with some grass seed which Fred gave us, a doormat for the wagon and a bag of rubble for the track. I couldn’t find the trailer tailgate and things fell out of the back, so I cut two sticks and used them to hold everything in place on the way down. At the mill I found the tailgate in the shed, we took it there to repair it when it got damaged.

I started cutting the large lawn and when Eddie arrived we picked up the fallen insect hotels, tightened screws in the legs and staked them down again. When the wildflower meadow has more growth we will move the insect hotels there. It was sunny but windy, so we’ll wait and sow the grass seed over the cable trench on a calm day.

I switched on the nest cameras, Jackdaws have taken over the Barn Owl box again, the female was sitting inside, she left the box a few times, revealing her 5 eggs, but came back again. We are glad Ryan adjusted the angle of the nest camera when he cleared out the box, as it gives a better view. The Duck is still laying on her nest on the brick floor, so we left the grass nearby uncut again to avoid disturbing her. There was a female Chaffinch eating from the round peanut feeder.

We took the push mower across our bridge and Eddie cut the grass on the Nar Valley Way footpath. I went back to cut the rest of our large lawn and the track beyond the mill as far as the fallen tree which we cleared last time, as it was very overgrown and Anne Marie uses it to get to the mill. 

Eddie then cut the grass in front of the wagon while I used the push mower to cut the upstream bank, as we no longer use the heavy mower between the damaged walls. I checked the grindstones to ensure they’re stable, they look the same as when the wall fell in January. We hope to discover more interesting finds when we start clearing wall debris, this will be after Mills Weekend on 13 & 14 May.

A Grey Wagtail was in the river near the fallen wall, they nested in the water wheel before, so we put nest boxes on the walls for them and they used one instead of the wheel, which we hope they will continue to do, so we can turn the wheel at our open days. We always check for bird nests before turning the wheel. When the wall fell, we had to remove the nest box they hadn't used, when the wall is repaired we'll put it back.

I raked up grass cuttings near the wagon and put them over the Hedgehog houses to give cover and insulation, and for nesting material. Eddie strimmed around the edges, then raked up the rest of the grass cuttings and put them in one of the new compost bins.

Thursday 27/4/23 Emma joined us and weeded the wildflower area, made tea for us and did a stock check ready for the open days, we need to buy cleaning materials, tea and coffee. I showed Emma how to play the slideshows on the display screens in the visitor centre as I am unable to attend the open days this year.

Anne Marie brought Honesty and Lavender plants and Beryl gave us Ragged Robin which Anne Marie planted and watered after digging up the patch of nettles around the small Oak tree. All plants were labelled so we know what they are.

Eddie used binoculars to view the Duck’s nest, there's still down on the nest but the Duck and eggs have gone so we think they've hatched, but we didn’t see any ducklings. We filled the bird feeders including the Squirrel proof peanut feeders, we took down the feeders which the Squirrel damaged as they could injure the birds.

I switched on the nest box cameras and saw the Jackdaw on her eggs and before long, a Great Tit appeared in the other nest box, we knew nesting material had been taken in there, as I cleared it out in February, so we look forward to seeing their chicks. Pied and Grey wagtails were flying around on the seat and water wheel.

Eddie and I repaired the fence posts which rope off the fallen wall area, we made another post and moved the barrier on the walkway back to give visitors at the open days more room to watch the water wheel turning. I put signs which I made on the fences to keep people away from the fallen walls. I also put signs up to keep visitors off the wildflower area, although we plan to cut paths through there when it flowers. 

Eddie got a barrow of bricks and laid them out to form a path from the lawn to the steps upto the river bank to prevent people walking on the wildflower meadow over the brick floor, he then strimmed around the wildlife habitat, tunnel exit and gardens.

Graham Bartlett  

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