After my latest trip out with the Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers, I am now relaxing at home with aching biceps, feeling tuckered out yet exhilarated. Earlier today I have been putting my newly acquired tree felling skills to good use in one of Sutton’s precious woodland habitats. Yes, today we have been axe swinging in Ruffet and Bigwood. Check out some of our previous blogs for more information on the benefits coppicing has for nature: https://suttonnature.wordpress.com/tag/coppicing/
Working with the SNCV every week gives me the opportunity to take my head out of my books, roll up my sleeves and get stuck in. I have learnt so much about ecology whilst volunteering and this has inevitably enriched my studies in biology.
The weather in recent days has been cold but beautifully sunny. Working in the long shadows with the sunlight beaming through the trees is magical and hard to find in everyday urban life.
I first started volunteering with the SNCV last spring and have since seen all four seasons and the changes they bring to our conservation areas and the native species dependent on them. I was initially drawn to the work of the Sutton Biodiversity Team and the SNCV because I wanted to spend more time outdoors.
On my second day out with the volunteers, I jumped at the chance of donning some waders and squelching around in the waters of Anton Crescent Wetlands. Although I was busy trying to stay upright, I caught glimpses of elusive wading birds among the reed beds, in their element in this carefully managed environment.
I remember how welcomed I felt on my first day and since then I haven’t looked back. The SNCV volunteers are friendly, supportive and keen to share their skills (and broken biscuits!)
In their company you can be yourself, as quiet or as chatty as you like, working in quiet contemplation or chatting away with a friend.
When the weather is rainy or cold, I can be tempted to stay at home in the warm but it never fails to amaze me how a day working outdoors makes me feel uplifted and invigorated, whatever the weather.
As a massage therapist, I appreciate the benefits of the natural endorphins (happy hormones) released during outdoor physical activity, which are great for the soul. There is no better remedy for the mid-winter blues.
As I relax at home, thinking about the trees we coppiced today, allowing sunlight into the woods, I know that soon my tired arms will be ready and raring to get to work again next week!
Ali Clarke- SNCV volunteer