Taming the Devil

Tuesday 6th March 2018

The Devil's Spittleful (c) Wendy CarterThe Devil's Spittleful (c) Wendy Carter

Pairs of hands are needed to help maintain a beautiful nature reserve on the edge of Bewdley.

The Devil's Spittleful volunteers (c) Andy HarrisThe Devil’s Spittleful is so-called because folklore states that the Devil struck his spade into the ground there. A small group of volunteers meets once a month to help Worcestershire Wildlife Trust manage the 109 acre heathland as a haven for wildlife.

Helen Dorey, volunteer co-ordinator for the Trust, explained “The Devil’s Spittleful is one of my favourite nature reserves; it’s a beautiful place and is home to some fascinating species of wildlife.

“Our volunteers get stuck into all sorts of things from helping to keep areas clear of young saplings and scrub to planting and fencing. Our team is small and friendly but we need a few more pairs of hands to keep on top of the maintenance work.

“The team only meets between 9am and 1pm; it’s great to stop for lunch and then enjoy the results of your hard work with a short walk around the reserve before heading home.”

Rare habitat supports wildlife

Together with the adjacent Rifle Range nature reserve, owned by Wyre Forest District Council, The Devil’s Spittleful forms one of the largest areas of heathland left in Worcestershire.

Common lizard (c) Amy LewisHeathland is one of Worcestershire’s rarest habitats; the county has lost more than 90% of it in the last 200 years through agricultural improvement, development and neglect.

The acid soil underlying the nature reserve means that the land is dominated by heather and wavy hair grass, making it great for moths, butterflies, bees and other insects. In turn, these support birds, bats and other wildlife.

20 species of butterfly, more than 160 species of moth and over 140 species of fungus have been recorded on the site. It is hoped that with the restoration work that the Trust is doing, birds such as nightjar and woodlark will return to the reserve.

Helen continued “Our volunteers learn new skills and meet new people as well as helping wildlife and heathland restoration right on their doorstep.

“Getting out into the fresh air, doing some physical work and being able to see just what you’ve achieved gives a real sense of wellbeing.

“Anyone who is interested in finding out more can give me a call or, better still, come along to one of our work parties. No previous experience or skills are necessary. It can sometimes be hard work but we try to make it fun and everyone can take things at their own pace.”

The next work party takes place on Saturday 10th March between 9am and 1pm; the group meets at Blackstone car park. Participants should wear outdoor clothing and sturdy footwear and bring gardening gloves, food and drink. All tools and instructions will be provided.

Following work parties take place on Saturday 21st April and Saturday 19th March.

Anyone interested can email Helen Dorey, Volunteer Co-ordinator, or call her on 01905 754919.