Well it has certainly felt it if you have been lucky enough to be out in the sunshine this week. The daffodils on the road verge by the Visitor Centre car park have buds that are ready to burst; the rooks in the rookery next to the Office have been ripping twigs off the trees with their beaks and building nests; and our neighbours, Northfield Farm, have got lambs in the fields.
Its been a busy old week with loads of stuff being packed in already, and its only Wednesday! On Monday, Georgia and I were interviewing folk for the post of Seasonal Ranger, and I am pleased to say that our preferred candidate bit my hand off when I offered them the job. I will not reveal their identity just yet, but watch this space!
Whilst this was going on we also had the builders in doing a roof inspection and sorting out some drainage problems that were causing rising damp in the Office and the Rangers' Cottage (both listed buildings) and a plumber in sorting out a leaking stopcock in the Cottage (which was rather exacerbating the damp problems!). And we have been trying to tie up the finances at the end of the financial year and write reports for funders, all of which have actually prevented us from getting out in the sun nearly as much as we would have liked!
But today we actually managed to get out there and enjoy it! I was out with our volunteers, John and Dave, this morning, cutting and burning gorse. Now before you start penning a letter signed by "Apoplectic of St Abbs" in defence of the gorse, I don't have an aversion to it per se. It is great for birds and insects and adds a splash of colour all year round and a delicate smell of coconuts on a warm summer day; it is just when it is spreading over our flora rich grasslands that I object to it. So we are tackling the outlying areas, where patches are developing where they shouldn't, and leaving the areas close to the Mire Loch. We have started on the area above the Petticowick car park where there is a patch creeping up on an area important for one of our rare plants, Spring Sandwort (picture right). Not an easy area to tackle as its is on a 45 degree slope, but we didn't let that deter us; John and I cut back the growth, whilst Dave packed it into dumpy bags and dragged it down to the (horizontal) fire site in the car park. Its slow going, but a job well done as the gorse in this area also forms great cover for rabbits, whose grazing also has a detrimental effect on some areas of our grasslands.
Whilst Dave, John and myself were pretending to be mountain goats, Georgia was off carry out a Beached Bird Survey (BBS) on one of the beaches along the coast. The BBS takes place at this time of year each year. It is coordinated by the RSPB and the aim is to assess the effects of marine pollution on seabirds. It basically involves people walking the beaches all around the coast of Britain, recording any dead birds they find and any apparent cause of death (eg oiling). It sounds rather grim, but is actually an excuse for Georgia and I to get out and walk all the beaches of the NNR and VMR, and indeed further along the coast, so it is something we look forward to.