Thursday, 26 June 2008

First day off

Today was my first weekday off of the summer (I'm working 3 days a week till the end of July), so guess what - we went to the wood!

It was sunny, but windy, so the butterflies in our clearing weren't spending enough time on the ground for me to get any photos. I did get some of this dragonfly though:
We also saw that more of the oak stumps are sprouting, and some have avoided destruction by squirrels, rabbits and deer. We're wondering whether we should fence them in for a year or two to give them a chance to regrow.Over in Sweep Wood, the trees my dad so diligently felled in the footpath are trying to grow back:
In this case though, the regrowth will be removed every year, as they're kind of in the way! I know we could kill the trees by poisoning them, but it seems more environmentally friendly to just cut them back repeatedly.

Just outside our entrance the grass seed we put down is still doing OK, despite the dryness of the soil this week:
Despite the tractor damage done over the winter, there is still a lot of activity in the wayleave outside our wood. I saw loads of ants, and clearly this is keeping the green woodpeckers interested too, as there droppings are in evidence:
We saw a strange dropping as well, with a small bone in it. Any ideas?
We weren't just taking pictures though - we also surveyed the trees along all the ride edges, as we're thinking of coppicing a strip either side of each ride this winter. This will require cooperation between us, Sweep Wood (easy, as my parents own it), and Grist Wood (who we're friends with). Fortunately, because the the multi-way split of the land that would be coppiced, no felling licenses will be needed - at least that's what the Forestry Commission told me when I called them today.

The advantage of coppicing the ride edges is that it creates "wildlife corridors" where there is more light and biodiversity. At the same time it helps dry out the surface of the rides, so improving access. After this initial cut, it should be possible to keep cutting these areas on something like a 3-year cycle. This will maintain the wildlife corridors and also yield material that could be good for walking sticks amongst other things!

We have a meeting in mid July with the other woodland owners in our patch who are interested in woodland management, and a professional advisor, to discuss plans for the woods, so we'll be checking out our ideas then before going any further.