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Volunteers needed to help clear invasive plants along the River Axe

The Donkey Sanctuary is seeking volunteers for its Himalayan Balsam Clearance Volunteer Day in Dorset on Wednesday 6 September from 10am to 4pm.

Volunteers are wanted to help clear Himalayan balsam plants along the bank of the River Axe on Donkey Sanctuary land at East Axnoller Farm near Beaminster in Dorset. Himalayan balsam is an invasive plant which spreads quickly and causes serious damage to UK river and stream habitats.

Himalayan Balsam plants

Volunteers wanted to build boxes for Devon’s wildlife

The Donkey Sanctuary is welcoming volunteers to its Woodland Box Volunteer Day near Sidmouth on Wednesday 23 August from 10am to 4pm.

Volunteers are needed to help build and put up nest boxes for dormice, bats and woodland birds on Donkey Sanctuary land at Paccombe Farm in Harcombe, near Sidbury, which is home to almost 400 donkeys and surrounded by 93 acres of amazing woodland.

A volunteer checks woodland box

Enjoy the colour yellow around the Sanctuary

Spring is definitely in the air and it’s wonderful to see so many visitors walking around the Sanctuary during the Easter holidays.

How many of you have been driving around and been dazzled fields of Oild Seed Rape (OSR) turning bright yellow? If you’ve visited The Donkey Sanctuary, you certainly will have noticed a patchwork of fields across the valley as you drive up Trow Hill towards the Sanctuary.

Patchwork fields of Oil Seed Rape (OSR) in flower

Bees and trees

Someone’s been visiting pussy willow... This young lady is one of the thousands of honey bees that live in harmony alongside our donkeys here at The Donkey Sanctuary. On a beautifully sunny and warm day earlier this week, this honey bee worker was laden with pollen, not only being carried on her back legs, but caught up in her body hairs too!

Honey bee loaded with willow pollen

Conservation and wildlife volunteer days

The Donkey Sanctuary is welcoming volunteers to its Hedges and Willows Volunteer Day in Sidmouth on Wednesday 22 March from 10am till 4pm.

Each month the Sanctuary runs wildlife and conservation volunteer days, which include outdoor practical tasks such as gardening, woodland management, hedge planting, willow weaving and the building of bug hotels. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded people, share and learn skills, and have fun.

Conservation and wildlife volunteer day at The Donkey Sanctuary

Managing our land sustainably

We have been busy in the woods this winter. We are lucky to have some fantastic woodlands on our farms – they range in size from just a few acres up to 90 acres, and some are County Wildlife Sites. They are good examples of semi-ancient woods which at one time may have had some traditional use (for example, wood fuel) but have since been left to their own devices.

Woodland volunteers at Brookfield Farm

World Wildlife Day - donkeys and our resident honey bees

With spring almost here, I thought you might like to know how Betty and her family (our resident colony of honey bees) have been doing since the autumn when they were fully stocked with around 40lb of honey stores. Most of this store was made up with thick sugar syrup made up with 2lb of white sugar to 1 pint water as the girls were a new colony and hadn’t grown in size to have a large enough workforce to gather as much as they needed for overwintering.

Honey bee on catkins

A breath of fresh air

For the second year running, we were delighted to welcome a group from the company Elanco for their annual Staff Volunteer Day. Last year they spent the day helping us cut an enormous section of our willowbeds which we harvest on rotation. This year, there was something quite different which we needed their help with.

Team Elanco!

Securing a future for bats in East Devon with a new Bat Beacon at The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth is host to a new Greater Horseshoe Bat Project Bat Beacon.

The population of Greater Horseshoe Bats has declined by over 90% in the UK during the last century, with Devon now a stronghold for the species in the South West. Led by Devon Wildlife Trust and supported by the National Lottery, as well as other funders, The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project has chosen to partner with The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth to provide a local information hub, known as a ‘Bat Beacon’, where people can find out more about the project.

Bat

Sunflowers bring a buzz to Sidmouth Sanctuary

The sunflowers at our Sidmouth Sanctuary are blooming and providing a feast for the eyes… and for wildlife.

You can help but smile to see them, but what's so good about the sunflower? The bright petals attract bees to the flower’s head which is made up of hundreds of small tubular flowers, each containing nectar and pollen.

Bees feed on the nectar and in doing so get covered in pollen; as they go from plant to plant, the pollen is transferred and the sunflowers are pollinated.

Sunflowers at the Sanctuary

Donkeys and Dinosaurs

What do donkeys and dinosaurs have in common? Well, The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth is located just a short glorious walk from the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. This summer we held a family event with the Jurassic Coast Trust to discover how this section of coast looked millions of years ago, and how it is used today to look after donkeys.

Donkeys and Dinosaurs

The hum of busy bees

Not many people know when they visit The Donkey Sanctuary here in Sidmouth that not only do we have fields of donkeys and mules grazing, but tucked away in a corner of a wild flower meadow we have a colony of honey bees who are also out foraging for food every day to take back to their beehive to add to their stores which they will rely on over the winter months.

Honey bee on flowering phacelia
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