Tuesday, 30 June 2009

First animal on the trail camera!

At last we have something other than people walking dogs on our trail camera! OK, it's not very exciting, but it's a start, and until now we didn't know that pigeons liked to drink at our pond. It's also good to know that something as small as a pigeon will trigger the motion sensor:

We also got these enticing but unclear pictures, which I think might be the tail of a fox, or something similarly sized (bottom right of picture). There's two pictures taken close together, for a "now you see it, now you don't" effect. They were taken at night using infra-red illumination:
More to follow when we get something interesting...

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Defensive gulls

Apparently I'm not allowed to wear white clothing on our top balcony for a while. Here's what happens if I do, especially if I put my arms up in the air...

It's a black-backed gull, and it has some chicks on the roof opposite, so gets defensive if it thinks we're a threat. Here's a video of some herring gull chicks on the next roof along:


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Sunday, 28 June 2009

Robin and the butterflies

Yesterday I went to the wood to meet a brother of a friend at 11am to answer some questions he had about buying woodland and producing fuel. We had an interesting chat, but they had to leave at 12, leaving me there in the heat of the day with my camera - so I got lots of pictures of butterflies. After locking the gate I immediately saw a Red Admiral basking on the hot stone of the track in the wayleave:
Not far from that was a dragon fly as well:
Going back into the wood, the first thing I saw was this juvenile robin, just beginning to grow its red feathers:
Carrying on through into the wildlife corridor, I saw at least four White Admiral butterflies, but they weren't landing, at least not anywhere low down, so I didn't get a photo. I did get lots of other butterflies though. This one's a male Meadow Brown:
And here's a female for comparison:With their wings closed they look like this, though you can't always see the black spot, if the wings are folded in more tightly:
There was a Comma sunning itself:
It's very well camouflaged once its wings are closed, especially among leaves:
Last but not least is a Speckled Wood, of which there were several enjoying the dappled sunlight at the edges of the corridor:
One of the reasons there are more butterflies in there is that the honeysuckle is now flowering, so there's nectar to be had. This is also the key food plant for the White Admiral's caterpillars.
That's all for now. We're going to go swimming in the sea this afternoon, and maybe metal detecting early evening, to see how much loose change the tourists have dropped!


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Saturday, 27 June 2009

Four pence and a tent peg

That was the grand total of our haul after an hour metal detecting on the beach yesterday evening!
But we also collected bits of litter to put in a bin, and had a nice walk.

We had a great time away at Jon & Polly's wedding (where I was best man), but after the hot drive back it was great to get out and wander along the beach.

There's loads of black-headed gulls around now:
They like to come down to the beach in the evening
and scavenge for food the careless humans have dropped
back at home we have herring gull chicks now:
and the parents watching over them carefully:
We're off up to the wood today, first just me to meet a guy who's interested in buying a wood for producing wood-fuel, and then later with friends from church. We had a big group up there last Saturday, many of them students on the Christian Rural and Environmental Studies course that a friend runs. I did a presentation for them on Peak Oil, then one on woodland, and we then went to the wood for lunch, a walk round and discussion.
There was about 20 people, and they all seemed to enjoy the day!


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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

It's gone a bit quiet...

Sorry for the lack of posts, we've had a crazy couple of weeks, with me doing a presentation to one group on Peak Oil, and another on what we're doing at the woodland, followed by a visit there. And now we're off to a friend's wedding... All good fun, but not much time to write on the blog!

There'll be some new stuff up here on the weekend...


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Sunday, 14 June 2009

What a lot of activity...!

A quiet and peaceful woodland, soon to be shattered by the excitement of 27 children age 10 ish! The children from the local primary school love coming to the woodland. This group came to learn about coppicing and local, sustainable forestry. They are going to compare low impact coppicing with logging.... very interesting! They had a go at felling a tree, walked around the wood finding out loads of stuff and enjoyed creating their own tasks. This young man is building a safe house around a baby oak tree to protect it from rabbits.

The children organised a shelter building competition, here are the boys working well as a team.

and the lasses, using a huge log for something!

They are all very safety conscious when they work! (note the helmet)

Here is one of the completed shelters, decorated with the foliage from the tree the kids felled earlier.

They were all fascinated by the boar leg someone hung in our tree..

Many thanks to National Trust for these brilliant guides.

We had a super day. I am only sorry I can't post pictures of smiling kids faces!
The following week we had 54 children visit, this time ages 6- 8. They all adopted baby trees and built shelters, and also did a plant investigation, looking at what grows in the light. We have been left with a variety of unusual looking shelters in the wood!

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Back to the woods...

After five days in London, it's been great to get back into the woods with Tracy this weekend. The young coppice is growing like crazy now:
We did do a couple of jobs while we were there, mainly trimming back trees along the edges of the track up the wayleave, and also clearing the public footpath where it crosses the wayleave, which did look like this:
and now looks like this:
I was also pleased to see the young oak we pollarded is growing some better shoots now, and has avoided the attentions of grazing animals:
We've left some bracken growing around it to try to keep it somewhat hidden from them...

We saw our first Red Admiral butterfly this year today, though it wouldn't open its wings nicely for a photo.
There was also this moth(?) that I've not been able to identify yet:
and here's a random weird insect to finish:

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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Busy in London...

I'm in London all week for work - because this is the pinnacle of the year for the Ashden Awards. Today was our conference at Imperial College, which I organised, and it all went well. Tomorrow evening is the Awards Ceremony, with Prince Charles as guest speaker!

Once I get back on Friday, it'll be back to the woods again :-) Hopefully we'll have some wildlife photos on our camera, as it's been up there all week in a place where I think there are often animals.


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Tuesday, 2 June 2009

New plants growing in the wood

Thanks to people on the Wild About Britain forums who helped ID these. First, a Heath Speedwell, which has started appearing in various places in the coupe we cut in 2007/08, which has tiny but pretty flowers:
Next is Scarlet Pimpernel, which is growing in the wayleave just outside the wood. Apparently it likes growing in disturbed ground, so no surprise it's where the tractor was driving with the oak thinnings just over a year ago:
And down at the other end of the wayleave, near the gate, is Ragged Robin, growing where there's a seasonal pond in the winter:
Also in the coupe are more common plants, but still good to see as they weren't there a couple of years ago, like Dock and Nettle:
Oh, and the bluebells are getting ready to scatter their seed now:
We're pleased to see so much new stuff growing in the coupe we cut in 2007/08, and as we're going to keep the rides cut back, much of what's there should be able to establish itself.


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Monday, 1 June 2009

Rhododendron killing

On Sunday I went to the wood to check on our trail camera (still nothing interesting...), but also dealt with this while I was there:After half an hour's work with loppers, an axe and a spade, I was left with this:
It's important to remove rhododendron wherever you find it in a wood, as it's an invasive non-native species, and can take over if left to itself. I know I didn't get all the roots out for this one (which is in the wayleave), but will check back over the coming months for any shoots indicating the presence of roots to be removed.

In the evening we went down to the beach with our friends John and Helen, after the crazy crowds had gone. They'd left their litter though:
Mind you, the gulls didn't mind - lots of scraps for them to eat. I think someone must come and clean the mess up each morning, otherwise it'd be several feet deep by now...

There were still some people flying kites, this one looked cool:
But not as cool as this Great Black-backed Gull:As sunset approached the beach emptied of people
and we were left with the moon overhead
and the sun setting over the dunes
but now it's back to work, which is very busy for both of us over the coming two weeks.


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