Monday, 26 September 2016

The start of this year's coppicing

We made a start on this year's coppicing! The first job was to cut back the side of the track passing through the wayleave, so we can get the car in:

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This is the area we're cutting, starting at the corner where the footpath meets the wayleave, and running alongside the wayleave in a strip:
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Here's the same shot after the first day's work, which was mainly spent clearing back small stuff at the edge of the footpath and building a couple of racks to store the cut wood in:
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I did manage to make a small start filling them though, one of Birch:
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and one of Sweet Chestnut:
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There's a bit more light getting in already!
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One interesting thing I found was an old tree stump which we'd left when coppicing the footpath edge here 8 years ago. It had become detached from the roots, so I'm taking it home to clean up as it looks nice:
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Back for more progress on the coppicing soon...

Mike

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Saturday, 3 September 2016

Digging a new culvert

Not content with repairing an old culvert, we've also been busy digging a new one. Here's the track before we started, with the pipe laid on top:

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The water comes from a spring up the hill from the track:
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The first step was to dig a trench for the pipe:
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This time, as we didn't have any convenient lumps of concrete, we've driven several chestnut stakes into the ground either side of the pipe where the car wheels will cross it, to provide some extra support:
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Having covered the pipe back over, we dug a sump on the uphill side:
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And an outflow on the downhill side:
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Here it is immediately after completion and being driven over once:
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Just a couple of weeks later, the track is transformed!
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We also put in some big logs on either side to act as 'kerbs' to retain the soil:
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One other interesting point - I noticed a lot of wasps while I was working on this, and found they were heading into this hole:
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Which on closer examination had a nest in it!
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I'll be starting coppicing in a few weeks, and hope to have a bit more time to update the blog after that...

Mike

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Repairing a culvert, butterfly spotting and a slow worm

The culvert we built 5 years ago in Sweep Wood has been in need of some maintenance... The downstream end had silted up, and the wooden 'kerb' had shifted:

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The upstream end was a bit clogged up with debris too:
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First step was to dig out all that debris, so I could get to the pipe to clear silt out of it:
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Same again at the downstream end, which took a while due to the quantity of silt:
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With that done I cut a new log to use as a 'kerb', and also made some stakes, all produced from wood we cut last winter just a short walk from the culvert:
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I drove the stakes in with a post driver, cut them off, then re-pointed what was left over to make a extra stakes to drive in, Hopefully this will hold the new kerb in place for some years:
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Here's the finished result, which will be much easier for people to walk over, and for me to drive over when the time next comes:
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Just along the path from there is the area we coppiced last winter, which is growing back nicely now:
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What's really striking is how many butterflies are there, when there would have been none a year ago. Here's a ragged looking Meadow Brown:
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A couple of shots of a Comma:
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And a Speckled Wood. In addition to these I also saw a Red Admiral, a Peacock and a Large White, but they didn't sit still for photos.
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Back at the camp in Chestnut Coppice I was surprised to see a slow worm in the wood store when I went in there to get some logs after dark, but nice to know we've provided a dry home for it. I've also disturbed a wren sleeping in there at night as well!
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That's all for now...

Mike

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The beginning of the end of the seasons?

OK, you may think the title is a bit dramatic, but from what I've just been reading, some unprecedented stuff has been happening to the jet stream in June 2016, and we really don't know what the end result will be.

As you may know, the jet stream circles the Earth in the upper atmosphere in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Due to the poles warming up, the jet stream has been more erratic in recent years, and been meandering around a bit, sending weird weather further south across Europe and other places. However, heat at the equator causes air to rise, effectively forming a barrier which the jet stream cannot cross, separating the two hemispheres. But not this summer, when a climate-change-boosted El Nino has now transitioned into the related La Nina. The centre of the image below image (taken from here) shows the jet stream crossing the equator from North to South.


There's more info in Robert Scribbler's blog here, but the general idea is that this is allowing summer and winter air to mix, and it has never happened during the time we've been watching the jet stream. The impact is unknown, but it could in theory reduce the differences between summer and winter, and potentially make our climate and weather even more unstable.

If you're interested in further background, there's an interesting 15 minute video here, but be warned it is quite technical!



Mike

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Saturday, 23 April 2016

The woodland turns white and blue...

The woods are now at an especially beautiful stage, where for a week or two there are both Wood Anemone and Bluebells out:

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The whole woodland floor has really greened up:
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The trees are catching up now as well. Birch are always pretty early coming into leaf:
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As is Hawthorn:
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But the Oak is now catching up too:
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And even the Sweet Chestnut has some leaves appearing:
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It won't be long before you can't see very far through the woods, as the leaves fill in the gaps and create shade.

Meanwhile, our tame pheasants are still busy gobbling up any spilled seed from the bird feeder. Here's the male one keeping a watchful eye over his two females!
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Mike

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