Saturday, 31 March 2012

EWB Imperial - building a log bridge in the woods

Last weekend members of EWB UK from Imperial College London came down for what's become an annual camping trip to our woodland. As always, there was a project to get involved with - this time building a bridge over a stream that can support a vehicle! During previous visits they built a firewood shelter and a foot bridge, so this year was a step up in scale.

I made a timelapse video of most of the bridge building, it's about 7 mins long (it's in 1080p HD, so put it full-screen). Take a look, and then read the rest of the post to see the pictures and description.

Here's the full team that came down this year:
DSC_3710 EWB Imperial members

The bridge is needed to allow access to a new ride that I cut last winter. I saved some of the stems I'd cut to make parts of the bridge, and we felled a few others as required to complete it. The first steps were digging some foundations, which took quite a while:
DSC_3704 Building a log bridge

and peeling the long logs that were going to be used as the main supports:
DSC_3708 Building a log bridge

We put some chunky logs into ditches that had been dug on each side of the stream:
DSC_3718 Building a log bridge

and then got the main supports in place, bolting them down later on:
DSC_3723 Building a log bridge

In the centre of the stream we also drove in some stakes (see the timelapse video above), and I used the chainsaw to cut a notch in the top of them for the main supports to rest in:
DSC_3726 Building a log bridge

On top of the main supports went some crossbeams (all of this was Sweet Chestnut, by the way), and again I cut some notches for them to sit in:
DSC_3731 Building a log bridge

Then there was a lot of drilling and nailing...
DSC_3737 Building a log bridge

Some of it by hand:
DSC_3738 Building a log bridge

though we did have a solar panel and inverter on hand to recharge the electric drill:
DSC_3727 solar panel

DSC_3729 inverter and battery charger

Once that was finished, it was time to start making the ramps to lead on and off the bridge and also lay down some planks (the only bit of wood that was bought in for this):
DSC_3739 Building a log bridge

DSC_3744 Building a log bridge

The planks were also nailed down, and it was starting to look like it might be OK to drive on...
DSC_3746 Building a log bridge

Of course, there's a signature on the side of the bridge:
DSC_3747 EWB signature

We posed for a photo or two:
DSC_3754 EWB Imperial members

DSC_3753 EWB Imperial members

and then it was time to put it to the test...
DSC_3758 Car approaching log bridge

There were some creaking noises, but it was rock solid!
DSC_3760 Car on log bridge

A job well done - thanks to everyone who came from EWB Imperial to help with this!


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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Woodpeckers, Spring and Bridges

The woodland is looking amazing at the moment. The ground is green,




The buds are budding (including our fruit trees)




Flowers are ... flowering!


and the woodpecker is lovely. I spend ages watching this little fellow. Not easy to get decent photos because of all the twigs.





There are loads of pheasants around


and lots of butterflies.


Anyone know what this is?


While I was being quiet watching birds, Mike and some engineering students were being noisy, building a bridge in another part of the wood. More to come on this topic from Mike!



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Saturday, 24 March 2012

Ever seen a duck chase a dog?

Our friend Carl took this video on their smallholding, where their duck (called Crispy) chases their dog (Jackson). Why Jackson doesn't eat Cripsy Duck I don't know, but it makes for hilarious viewing! Take a look:

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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Spring 2012 is here!

The wild plum tree at the top of Sweep Wood is flowering, so Spring is definitely here!

DSC_3616 wild Plum tree

Just next to it, Dog's Mercury is carpeting the ground:
DSC_3615 Dog's Mercury

Elder is also coming into leaf:
DSC_3619 Elder

As is the Honeysuckle that's winding its way up the coppice regrowth:
DSC_3620 Honeysuckle

Looks like we're in line for some more Foxgloves in the same area again this summer too:
DSC_3622 Foxglove

Deeper inside the wood, Lords and Ladies plants are well advanced:
DSC_3633 Lords and Ladies

and Bluebells are making progress, though the flowers are some weeks away yet...
DSC_3634 Bluebell shoots

There are some flowers out already though, like this Primrose:
DSC_3629 Wild Primrose

and the first few Wood Anemones are opening:
DSC_3626 Wood Anemone

It's going to be interesting to see what happens to the bare patches where we had logs stored until last summer amongst the regrowth - they're going to be a year behind the rest of the area:

Likewise there's different stuff growing where we'd had small fires to burn up brash, thus sterilising small patches of ground. Moss has been the first to move in:

The trees are busy too, though no leaves yet. There's buds opening on the Willow in the Wayleave:
DSC_3637 Willow bud

and the Hazel trees are covered with Catkins:
DSC_3648 Hazel catkins

We found the remains of an egg (possibly from a Pigeon?), but I suspect it must be from months ago by the look of it.
DSC_3625 Bird egg

Plenty of other bird activity though, with several Robins:

DSC_3656 Robin

a Song Thrush, which is rare in our woods, though where we saw it was near gardens in Sweep Wood. They're actually on the RSPB Red List at the moment...
DSC_3659 Thrush

Best of all, we saw a Great Tit making a nest in a hollow in an old Cherry tree on a field boundary - we knew to look there, as one nested there last year too:
DSC_3651 Great Tit nesting

And finally, here's a nice video Tracy got near home in Rye, of a Little Egret:

That's all for now...


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