Exterminate

Day 2 of #30DaysWild.

Squishing, crushing, stamping, stomping. A day of Himalayan balsam extermination.

A non-native, extremely invasive species. Out-competing native wildflowers. Changing the nature of habitats. Causing riverbank erosion.

I spent the day with colleagues and volunteers in a wet woodland pulling the balsam up with its shallow roots. The next step is to scrunch it up and stamp on it in a lovely big crunchy pile.

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The pesky plant loves to grow amongst nettles and brambles. Nettle-proof clothing and safety goggles required.

Himalayan balsam started off in the UK as a garden flower. The seeds are small and light, and like to travel by water. The flower heads explode when ready, sending their seeds far and wide. Hence, it didn’t take long for this species to reach all over the country.

As we moved through the woodland clearing the dense swathes of balsam, the habitat began to look as a woodland should. I noticed an absence in invertebrates though. Maybe they’ll move in after our work.

I also got to lay on a soft and spongy raised bog, covered in mosses and cranberry. This habitat was very much full of life. Diddy diddy folk skittering away as we explored.

Chiffchaff were chiffchaffing, Song thrush were shouting, and Buzzard were mewing up above.

Himalayan balsam extermination. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

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About Olivia N Masi

From art college drop-out, to office space-planner, to back-packer, to air stewardess, to brolly babe, to model agent, to wildlife conservationist. How? I've always believed in jumping at every opportunity that comes my way. This has taken me along some bizarre career paths. None of which I regret. I have been to amazing places and met fascinating people. And having worked in the motor sport industry I've sadly experienced too many beloved friends take one adrenalin step too many. I think of them always. I've hung out with pop-stars, sports personalities, and millionaires. I reached a point when nothing but VIP would do. And then something happened. My pops passed away and I felt the need to reconnect with my Italian side. Whilst in Italy, I learnt to be resourceful, to recycle everything, to listen to the valley, to grow my own veg, to catch and tame feral cats, and to follow my heart. My heart led me to a desire to save this beautiful Earth, and all the wonderful life upon it. And so I read, and then I studied with the Open University. I suddenly found myself accepted on a BSc in Wildlife Conservation, having left school with pitiful qualifications. So here I am. A qualified Wildlife Conservationist. A scientist I suppose. I love nothing more than to listen to birdsong, and watch, learn and photograph wildlife. So here is to me getting the perfect job where I can contribute to saving one of Earth's beautiful species. Do I miss the glamour of the old life? The VIP lifestyle? The petrol-head adrenalin? The buzz of being a successful business owner? Only occasionally. Though it seems more like the distant dreams of a previous life.
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