Read about the life and work of the Attingham Wardens

Attingham Park is a National Trust property comprising of an 18th Century mansion set in a Repton landscape; the Park and wider Estate includes a deer park, walled garden, several miles of the rivers Severn and Tern, extensive farmland and woodlands.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

It's been another busy week so far. On Monday I took a team of volunteers down to Tern meadow where we cleared back the vegetation that grows along the track to the new fishermans car park. Amongst the usual nettles and brambles there was a large amount of hemlock water dropwort - the most toxic plant for animals and humans that grows in Britain. It looks very similar to flat-leafed parsley and gives off a pleasant parsley/celery scent when crushed. We cut it down with brushing hooks, taking care to wear gloves and not expose our skin to the sap. It is only fatal if ingested so we made sure that no-one was tempted to give it a taste!
Oenanthe crocata - Hemlock Water Dropwort

We have also been processing seasoned logs to sell and use in the Visitor Reception log burner; repainting the white gate near the front of the mansion; renewing and repainting signs; cutting back some overgrown willow; weeding newly-planted hedges; and creating a new space fo a temporary tree nursery. Today I also got to practice my digging skills as we needed a 2-metre deep hole digging for some ground percolation tests. Those of you that know me will know that I am not exactly blessed with height and muscles so I swapped my spade for a JCB - job done in a fraction of the time! (Well, once I'd got out of the dip I was temporarily stuck in!)
I drove back to the office today across the deer park and was treated to a close up of some bucks as they grazed and sunned themselves near the footpath. The deer are now in their summer coats and look absolutely beautiful. The buck's antlers are already growing back and the new antlers are covered in 'velvet' - the skin that covers the bone until it is finished growing. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for the first fawns, they are due to arrive any time now but they are often hard to spot for the first month or so as they stay well hidden in the long grass and bracken. If you see a fawn then please let the wardens know, but remember not to go too close or to touch them as they will be rejected by their mother if they detect human scent on them. And of course, it's more important than ever to keep dogs on a lead when their are little ones about!

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