Michael hands over Ipsley's reins

Friday 5th May 2017

Michael Barstow, Andy Harris, Margot BishMichael Barstow, Andy Harris, Margot Bish

A volunteer of almost fifteen years standing is hanging up his boots and handing over the reins of a Redditch nature reserve.

Ipsley Alders Marsh (c) Andy HarrisMichael Barstow, who has been volunteering at the Winyates Green wildlife haven Ipsley Alders Marsh since 2003, is stepping down as volunteer reserve manager this year. He is formally handing over the responsibility of the site to Margot Bish, a volunteer at Ipsley Alders Marsh since 2001.

Michael, a Winyates Green resident, explained “I’ve had the most fantastic time running monthly work parties and being involved at Ipsley Alders Marsh over the years.

“I’ve met many people who have volunteered or just been walking around the marsh and have found their enthusiasm for the place very rewarding.

“The reserve has rare plants and animals but my primary interest has been the birds on the nature reserve. I and several other appropriately trained volunteers have been monitoring the birds since 2006 and I hope to still continue with this in my ‘retirement’ from being the volunteer manager here.”

Thriving wildflowers

Ipsley Alders Marsh is the remnant of a much larger marsh that once sat in open countryside. The nature reserve now covers 18 hectares and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The site is waterlogged for much of the year and is managed as a grazed marsh, with small numbers of cattle helping to remove vigorous-growing grasses and allowing more fragile wildflowers to thrive. More than 170 species of plants have been recorded at Ipsley Alders Marsh.

Volunteering at Ipsley can be challenging – there are brambles to clear, trees to coppice and blackthorn to hack but it’s so very satisfying when a task is achieved.

Margot Bish, the new volunteer reserve manager, started volunteering for Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, who own the nature reserve, in 1999. She became a volunteer at Ipsley Alders Marsh in 2001.

Michael Barstow handing 'the manager's bag' to Margot BishMargot commented “We’re so lucky in Redditch to have so many wild places – from Pitcheroak to Oakenshaw Woods and from Morton Stanley to Arrow Valley Parks.

“Ipsley is another string to our bow and it’s such an exciting place with regular surprises – a flash of a kingfisher, a soaring buzzard or the many butterflies, moths and damselflies that live here.

“It’s even better to get things done with the friendly bunch of volunteers we’ve got here – and we welcome more pairs of hands should anyone want to join us.

“Michael’s a very hard act to follow but it’s good to know that he still wants to be involved and I’m sure he won’t mind me picking his brain occasionally.”

Volunteer work parties take place on the first Sunday of each month and regular monitoring takes place throughout the summer months.

Anyone interested in getting involved at Ipsley Alders Marsh nature reserve can contact Margot direct on 01527 60004 or email the Trust’s volunteer co-ordinator scott@worcestershirewildlifetrust.org or visit our volunteering pages for more information about other volunteer opportunities with the Trust.

Tagged with: Volunteering, Ipsley Alders Marsh, Redditch