Sunday 22 February 2009

Bluebells are starting...

We saw something cool today - Bluebell shoots in our wood - they've been in my parents' wood for a while, not sure why they start earlier there...
Anyway, we should see the Wood Anemone flower before the Bluebells start.

We were up in the wood to collect a trailer load of logs for a customer who we've been the sole supplier for this winter. We've got more left than I thought though - I keep finding little log piles that we made a year ago and then forgot! While we were cutting the wood, a robin came to watch:I stirred up some leaves for him, and he immediately went down to look for food, then returned to a good lookout point:
from which he was able to flee at the first hint of danger...After cutting the logs and having a hot drink, we put up a bird box. I'm ashamed to say we've had this for a year and have only just got round to putting it up. It only took 10 minutes too! Hopefully it'll get used this year, otherwise maybe next year.
The ropes are hooked around a branch on the back of the tree to stop them slipping down, and each is tied independently so that if one somehow came loose there's still another holding the box.


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Woods from years ago, and how NOT to prune a tree

A couple of weeks ago I visited my parents, near Manchester. Here's some pictures of woods I used to play in as a child, and also some appalling pruning of a tree that I saw.

Here's the path at the back of my parents' house, it used to be a mining railway, but is now a haven for wildlife, probably because as a strip of trees a few metres wide it is almost entirely "edge":Carrying on from there we headed past a gully that I remembered having much smaller trees in it!The really weird bit was coming to piece of ground that's split into two levels with a slope between them. We used to set up a ramp and jump our bikes from the higher to the lower level, but you'd struggle to ride through it now:
Interesting to see what can happen to some bare land if left alone for 20 years.

One really cool thing we saw was a Great Tit making its home in this hole that a woodpecker must have made in a dead tree:
Anyway, onto the poor attempt at tree surgery that we saw. This was on a bit of land just at the edge of someone's garden, so not actually part of the wood. They'd pruned off some lower branches using a chainsaw (probably up a ladder with a chainsaw meant for use on the ground...). Here's the results of their work.

First, the stump of a branch that they seem to have just hacked off, with no attempt to tidy it up:
Then one that's a bit tidier, but where they overcut and went into the main trunk:
And finally, one where they didn't make an undercut so the branch has peeled back bark from the trunk as it came down:
None of this is going to help the health of the tree, opening it up to infection, etc. It'll be interesting to see how it's doing when I'm next up there...


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Saturday 21 February 2009

Odds and ends

A few pictures from Saturday...

As it was sunny, Dave (a friend form church) was taking his bike out, and offered to take Tracy for a ride - she's been looking forward to this for some time!She came back cold but exhilarated!

We went up to the wood in the afternoon, just to take a few photos and sit in the sunshine. A couple of weeks ago there was very heavy rain here, but I forgot to take a picture of the track back then, so here's one now:As you can see, the torrent of water has washed much of the mud down the track and left stone behind - good for traction, but makes the ruts deeper. We've been talking to some of our woodland neighbours about options for upgrading the track later this year.

Good new on the squirrels - they didn't get at the bird feeder hung up with the chain! We topped up the feeder, as there were a lot of birds around, but they can't be as hungry as they were when it was snowing, as they didn't come down to eat while we were there. Walking down the wayleave on the way home we saw quite a few though, including several robins:and loads of coal tits and blue tits:
We're going up again this afternoon to collect a load of logs for a customer - perhaps the last of the winter? We're nearly out now, so it'd better be!


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Monday 16 February 2009

Spring is here!

We went up to the wood on Sunday afternoon, and finished coppicing one stool we'd left part-done by the pond. While we were there, we saw a sign of spring coming - catkins on this Hazel tree:
There's a good bit of sky above the pond now, it'll be interesting to see how it does in the summer, though we need to dig it out a bit more.
The little animals, possibly squirrels, are still gnawing at the holly:
This has been done to all of the young holly trees along the path between Sweep Wood and Grist Wood. I'm really beginning to dislike squirrels....

And rabbits too for that matter, as they did this to a chestnut stool:
Fortunately this is near the pond, where we want to keep a clearing anyway. In the main part of the wood very few chestnut stools have been attacked.

Last week, while I was away, Tracy had been up and found the squirrels had gnawed through the rope to get the bird feeder down. Until we manage to reduce their population and increase our supply of meat I've gone a step further to keep the bird feeder up:I know they can climb the chain, but as long as it stays up in the air they can only get at limited amounts of the food - it's when they get it down on the ground and roll it around that all the seed comes out. We'll visit again in a few days and see what's happened...

The final thing we had to do as we left was help one of our woodland neighbours who'd skidded off the track on the wayleave. It was good that we had the winch and rope handy, and nice to be able to help out.


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Sunday 15 February 2009

Stakes for the allotment

Got a bit of catching up to do... so, here's what we did a week ago, helping a customer (Pip) install some stakes we'd sold her for a small orchard she's planting in her allotment patch.
The stakes were 8ft long, so it was kind of tricky getting the post driver over the top to bang them in:
and also getting it off again afterwards:
Anyway, after a bit of effort and a couple of blisters, 15 stakes were in the ground, ready for the trees to go in and be trained along poles or wires that will run between them.

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Saturday 7 February 2009

Feeding the birds, and problems with squirrels

This post is mostly about birds in our wood:
but first let me digress onto squirrel damage...

Here's a young holly tree that's been gnawed, which we saw as we walked between Sweep and Grist wood:
This was too high off the ground to be a rabbit, so it was deer or squirrel I guess.

The following was certainly from squirrels though:
So much for squirrel proof! I guess they didn't know the squirrels would be able to unscrew the hook from the top of the bird feeder so it falls to the ground and lets them in...

And here's some more evidence - squirrel droppings:
So, we set about putting the feeders back up in places where it might be harder for the squirrels to get to them. We want the birds to be able to get some food during the current cold weather.
We'll see how we go. If the squirrels get them again, I'll be back with the air rifle next time and we'll be having squirrel for dinner (I'm not joking).

Anyway, the birds in our wood are either fearless or very hungry, because no sooner had we got the food out than they came down to eat it, even while we were still bustling around. Here's a Coal Tit scavenging for seeds dropped on the ground:
A Robin came straight to the usual place he hangs out on a dead wood pile, where we'd put some fat:
and a Great Tit found the seeds we'd put under a piece of wood leaning against a tree (we knew they liked going into this gap already). By the way, the rest of the photos are ones Tracy took.
Some Blue Tits also came, and found the hanging fat rings to their liking:
Within just a few minutes the birds were back at one of the feeders, so they must have been using it before the squirrels got to it:
Then a new arrival turned up - a Nuthatch. As if to prove his tree climbing abilities he came in via the rope:
He did get to eat, but before long a bossy Great Tit flew in, and so he had to fly out:
Last of all, the Coal Tit decided to come to the feeder as well:
and once the Great Tit had got out of the way, he was able to come down and feed:
Here's the Coal Tit making his escape - we did well with in-flight photos today!
And finally, the next couple of pictures aren't great, but I wanted to include them as it's a bird we've not seen in the wood before - a Treecreeper, creeping around on a tree, as you might expect:
That's all for now. I'm travelling around the UK for work for the next week, so I hope the snow doesn't cause any more chaos...


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