RAF swaps air force for Ground Force

Hauxley Nature Reserve Assistant Warden, Yvonne Townsend with the RAF Boulmer team.
Hauxley Nature Reserve Assistant Warden, Yvonne Townsend with the RAF Boulmer team.

VOLUNTEERS from RAF Boulmer dug in to help a wildlife charity.

Fourteen personnel from the Control and Reporting Centre took time out to help the Northumberland Wildlife Trust at Hauxley Nature Reserve.

Under the guidance of assistant warden Yvonne Townsend, the volunteers cleared vegetation, dug ditches and laid drainage pipes in an effort to provide the ideal conditions for wildlife to flourish.

Hauxley Nature Reserve is a 21-hectare reserve with a large lake and five small islands, surrounded by beautiful woodland. It is best known for the variety of birds that visit, but there are also some fabulous wild flowers.

On their first day, the RAF team cleared one of the islands by strimming the long grass, a vital task as many of the small birds can only nest in short grass.

The cut material then had to be removed from the island. If it was left to rot, the nutrient content of the soil increases and encourages the wrong diversity of plants for the birds.

The rough pasture also increases wild flowers that in turn encourage insects and birds such as the lapwing which nests on the islands.

The team then set about digging ditches to alleviate flooding of the path in winter and to create a habitat for frogs, newts and other aquatic life.

It was certainly different to their normal jobs at RAF Boulmer, where each has a role in the monitoring of UK airspace.

Flt Lt Hayley Roberts said: “It’s been really hard work, but it has been great to get outdoors and contribute something to the local community.

“There is always something to do here and we are all glad to be able to help just a little bit.

“ It’s also been a great exercise in working together as a team and we had fun taking the little dinghy back and forth across the lake, full of rakes, pitchforks, strimmers or bags of grass.”

Yvonne said: “We are so grateful for the help from the RAF Boulmer volunteers, they have made a huge difference.”