On a warm August day, Courtney and myself from the Communications team joined one of the Trust’s estates worker, Matt Callaway, for a day to see just what’s involved in what our estates team do.

Our day started early, meeting at our Green Lane Wood complex on the outskirts of Trowbridge. We ran through what was planned for the day and went through the risk assessments for the day’s work.

Our first task was to help repair some fencing on the edge of the wood – involving us using tools to put new posts into the ground and attach planks of wood to help secure the fence line. Embarrassingly, I haven’t used tools very much in the past so Matt was on hand to show me how it was done!

Day in the life of an estates worker, repairing a kissing gate

Our next task was to help rebuild and make sturdy a stile on the edge of Biss Woods which had become wobbly over time, we also had the opportunity to meet the reserve warden, Peter Loxley-Smith.

Day in the life of an estates worker, new step on stile

Where Green Lane Wood is nearby to housing, unfortunately, the reserve is subject to litter and vandalism from time-to-time. Our estates team had recently been made aware of some bonfires that people had lit in the woods, a worrying trend that has happened particularly in the recent dry weather. Armed with bin bags and litter pickers we made our way into the sites and spent time clearing up the rubbish. We collected over two full bags of rubbish – cans, broken bottles and food wrappers all discarded.

Unfortunately, some of the deer fencing that was put up to allow new trees to grow had also been affected and needed to come down, so our last task for the day was to remove the large wooden posts and roll up the broken fencing. This was no easy task and involved a lot of manoeuvring and energy! I think we both came away with a new admiration for the work that goes on behind the scenes like this at our nature reserves – the physical work that takes both staff and volunteers hours but ensures that our reserves can be enjoyed by others.

Day in the life of an estates worker, taking down deer fencing#

Whilst working with Matt, we also learned about the recent bat tracking he was involved in at these woods. The rare Bechstein’s bat is just one of the many species of bat that can be found in these woods and it was fascinating to learn about their maternity roosts, their habits and where some of the species can be found nesting. We were even lucky enough to see a roost of lesser horseshoe bat.

If you are interested in getting involved in some of the conservation and estates work that the Trust do then I’d highly recommend volunteering – there are lots of opportunities to get hands-on, to learn new skills and to meet other people. Plus there’s often the added lure of cake or biscuits and that refreshing cup of tea!

A big thanks to Matt for letting us get involved!