Battling Blackthorn for the seed bank!

A fantastic day out with Jamie collecting sloes and some lunchtime birding.

Jamie our Senior Education & Volunteering Officer has been conducting seed collections for the Millennium Seed Bank or Kew for short. This time I went along with him to learn a little more about what the process of collecting involved.

Jamie had pre-selected Augill Pasture nature reserve as a worthwhile stop to take some Sloes (fruit of the Blackthorn plant). Augill Pasture is situated just east of Brough on the A66 and holds a plethora of wild fungi, songbirds and even Red Squirrels all within a few meters of the A66.

We arrived on sight and quickly got to work. The method was fairly simple; we’d select a fruiting plant, take a grid reference with the GPS and tag the tree, remove no more than 80% of the fruit and bag them up separately for each tree. All in all we managed 9 trees over the course of the day and were payed a visit by a Red Squirrel just all we were packing up to top things off!

With some time to kill we decided to take half an hour and drive into the North Pennines (somewhere I’ve never been) to track down some moorland birds. We had a fairly fruitful thirty minutes seeing Red Grouse, Red-legged Partridge, Kestrel, Goldfinch and too many Pheasants to count.

A quick stop at Argill Woods was next on the to-do list. It was a possible second reserve to collect Sloes. We found a couple of fruiting Blackthorn plants but not enough to return for a collection at a later date. It was still a worthwhile trip as Jamie gave me a beginner’s lesson on a few Fungi and Lichens.

Overall one of the best days I’ve had at the trust so far. Not particularly action packed but thoroughly enjoyable!

Isaac

Seed collecting at Augill 2016

Seed collecting at Augill 2016

About the authors: Sian and Isaac were Aprentice Conservation Officers with the Trust from September 2016 to spring 2018