3 February 2015:
Last December I was showing Joe Topple around the site when we came upon a strange large object on the beach. It appeared to be of a fatty substance and had a strange smell. A vague recollection of a substance vomited up by Sperm Whales came to mind. The name of it I couldn’t remember but I did recall that it is worth a small fortune. Back at the office I asked Paul Grant (Landguard Project Officer) what he thought. "Could be Ambergris, Whale vomit, can be worth a small fortune!" he said with a glint in his eye. Ambergris is a substance formed in the Whales stomach, it is thought that the sharpness of Squid beaks causes the substance to form.
That lunch time I became an expert in Ambergris, finding out that most samples contain Squid beaks and egg like structures. These two commonly defining elements were not evident in our sample, none the less everything else seemed right about it. I broke the sample into several large pieces and Paul, still with a perceptible glint in his eye helped me wheel barrow it from the beach. That evening I sent a picture of it to a French buyer for the perfume industry really knowing that in my heart of hearts that it wasn’t Ambergris. To put things in perspective for you, a few years ago a man walking his dog on a Sussex beach found a six pound lump of the stuff and he was subsequently offered £45,000. It is thought that it might be worth double that figure. Our sample was well over 100 pounds in weight! A polite e-mail from the Frenchman the next day informed me that it wasn’t Ambergris but likely to be some type of fat. Lynn Allen from the Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) based in Melton confirmed that it was likely to be paraffin wax, a substance used by large ships to bung up holes that more commonly washes up on our beaches.
Joe Topple is a student at Otley College on an Arboriculture course. He is also currently undergoing the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, and towards this end he is volunteering on the Nature Reserve, giving four hours of his time every Tuesday when he can make it to the site. The Gold Award doesn’t come easily and requires a significant level of commitment. He also finds time to help out with the programme for Ipswich Wanderers and is quite rightly proud of his input. At his tender age he has already worked on a conservation project in Indonesia, which I can tell left quite an impression on him. For my part he is a very welcome pair of extra hands when undertaking practical tasks on the Reserve and interesting company. I’m sure everyone would join me in doffing our caps and saying "Well done Joe".
Bramble along the Rifle Butts path have been cut back by at least a metre which should get rid of annoying strands of Bramble crossing the path for quite a while. Significant amounts of Bramble have also been removed from the large area of short turfed Acid Grassland towards the 'Point'. It is very important not to let this prime area of grassland become covered in scrub. As site Rangers come and go this is exactly what it can do especially if the area isn’t covered by fixed point photography to show incremental changes.