Nature Between the Fences
As the seasons change, the flora and fauna between the railway's fences adapt to survive, grow or reproduce. Each season this page, written by a knowledgeable member of the railway's Lineside Clearance Team, will tell you what you might see between the fences while travelling on the train, if you look carefully.
Lineside Clearance Team Diary - Spring into Summer 2021
As Spring begins and moves into Summer, the Lineside Clearance team has merged with the Drainage team. As we have dealt with years of neglect and growth since the 1980s, we have returned the lineside to close to its original state, with many large and/or dangerous trees being removed and grass or manageable bushes remaining. As a railway that sits at the base of the Cotswolds we have inherited the many drainage courses off the hills and in many areas our huge embankments will act as a dam if our drainage systems fail, so as we reveal more of these culverts they can be restored. Much has already been achieved. It is true that we have removed many habitats for the wildlife that had colonised the margins of the railway and indeed several badger setts have had to have their residents carefully relocated. Rabbits as well cause huge damage to the embankments and these have been “discouraged” from digging.
Nonetheless, we still see a huge variety of flora and fauna along the line. Kestrels and buzzards, pheasants and ubiquitous crows soar above the line. Robins often appear as we are working, looking for disturbed worms. One volunteer claims he saw an otter and although the water coming off the Cotswolds is clean enough, perhaps it was just a large rat or weasel. As we remove large, light-hungry trees, the lineside has erupted with bright primroses and other small plants. Some wildflower seeds have been planted. Growth and colour has come with the change of seasons and we hope you will appreciate being able to see it. The eagle-eyed can spot many small posts with white labels showing the location of the now free-flowing culverts under the embankments.
One lockdown idea that has really caught on was from Mike Peers, who set up a page on the image-hosting website, flickr. See the link below for those who like a good picture.
Dr Ian S Pogson