Friday 21 March 2008

Snow, wind and rain

Well that was the forecast for most of the UK this weekend, but today was like this in our wood:
The wayleave in particular is showing many signs of spring now:
and some leftovers from autumn:
We were interested to see this in the grass just outside the entrance to our wood:
It's probably from a green woodpecker, which is cool. A friend of ours saw one near there when he visited last year, so I guess they're still around.

We saw another cool bird event as well - on our walk back down the wayleave to the car at the end of the day we stopped to watch a blue tit. It was only about five metres from us, but decided that it was safe enough to take a bath in the drainage ditch! We stood very still and watch. Didn't get a picture, because I figured that by the time I'd put down the chainsaw, etc. and got the camera back out of my rucksack the bird would have gone. Maybe I'll keep the camera out next time we leave...

As I said in an earlier post, this weekend is our last coppicing, because the trees are starting to grow now. It would have been nice to finish a couple of weeks ago, but we've not had the time. So, we made a big effort today, and tackled some birch that were a bit awkward, as they had to be felled into the area that isn't being coppiced because they were leaning that way, and the wind was blowing that way too. The first one came down OK, neatly into a gap:
but the next two were not so easy. This big guy got hung up, just as I expected:
because of the felled oaks that are in the way I wasn't able to winch it out, but was able to use a pole as a lever to shove it along so it was lying at a shallow angle, then cut a log off the base. Repeating this process got it down. But I should give a warning: cutting bits of the but of a hung up tree can be dangerous, because it can result in sudden movement of the tree, especially if you cut enough off that what's left is stood upright and can topple. This is why I was careful to lever the tree along between each cut so that it remained at a shallow angle. Still not ideal though, and I would have preferred not to do this.

We felled six large birch through the day, and about the same number of medium-sized chestnut that were in between them, and created this lovely expanse of sky, which will get more light down to the woodland floor for things to grow:
Of course what was left on the ground wasn't so pretty:
Because we're focusing on getting the trees down we're just logging them up and leaving them pretty much where they are, to clear up in a couple of weeks.

To show the progress we've made, here's a picture of the area three weeks ago, and at the end of today. You'll see that the oak on the left is down now, but the two oaks behind the felling area in the middle are now clearly visible.

a few weeks ago:
The other area we worked in, where Tracy spent much of the day, was the remaining chestnut on the right, near the border with Dome Wood.
At the start of today:
and at the end:
Still a few more to do, but we'll be there again tomorrow, though for how long will depend on the weather, as if it rains hard we'll have to stop, because it's not safe when everything gets slippery.


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