Wednesday 29 December 2010

Foggy woodland work

Today was one of those days when the fog never lifted, but our friend Jim was visiting, so we got on with the work, dealing with some of the remaining edge trees. Jim was cutting Hazel using hand tools:


and also pulling on ropes for trees I was felling on the opposite side:

Hazel takes a long time to process after felling, and Jim made good progress on these stools, leaving the larger stems to be chainsawed later.

Over on my side, here's a view from a few days ago:

and here it is today:

It's important to get most of these edge trees down, as otherwise they'll shade the wood too much, negating some of the wildlife benefits of coppicing, and slowing down the regrowth of the trees.


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Sunday 26 December 2010

Coppicing (nearly) finished!

Over the past few days we've cracked on with the coppicing, with some help from friends to speed us along, and as a result we've now finished coppicing all the trees we plan to in the central area where we're working. There's still a few edge trees to deal with, but the bulk of the work is now done, and if we had to stop now, it would be OK.

The week started quite foggy, and was pretty cold too.


In fact, it was could enough that for a couple of days we decided to only work for 3-4 hours at a time in the wood, as it was sub-zero and windy too! On one of these days we collected some year-old logs from our wood, and also picked on some 8ft stakes I've been making. We'll use these to build a firewood shelter at home, similar to the one in the wood.

Today we went up to tackle these last few trees in the middle area:

As we had Carl and Holly there to help, things sped along nicely.


Before long we were at the last tree in the middle area, and I left Carl to do the necessary:


As I said, there's still some edge trees to deal with. In the afternoon we went to clear this area out:

This was hard work, as I was back in the ditch, just like a year ago...


but before long it was looking clearer:

There's several edge trees to come down here. The nearest tree is a Cherry, which will stay, while the Hazel and Sycamore further up the hill will come down. The two big Sycamore at the top are larger than I've trained to fell, and as they're near our neighbour's barn, I'm going to arrange for someone we know to fell them, and we'll deal with them once they're on the ground.

I'd like to thin some of the Holly on the other side as well, time permitting:

Here's a few views of the area we've been working in:



It's going to be exciting to see it all coming back to life in just a few months...


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Friday 24 December 2010

Will the UK run out of gas in February 2011?

Just to let you know, I've written a post on this on my other blog...

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Monday 20 December 2010

Working in the snow-covered woods

Coppicing in the snow's not that bad, and it's better than rain and mud! The snow's not actually that slippery, as it's been so cold it's got a frozen crust on it.

Today Holly was visiting (mainly to avoid being at home while cleaning was in progress I think!), and she found that she was very good at splitting logs with wedges and a hammer:


Of course, I was playing the critical role of supervisor while she was working hard! ;-)


Yesterday, Holly's dad, Carl, was also in the woods. He's just done his chainsaw training, so was eager to come and knock some trees over. Here he is striping some logs after felling - and it was while looking at this picture that I realised that Carl, Tracy and I all have blue chainsaw trousers, orange helmets and Husqvarna chainsaws - at a glance we all look quite similar!

With the cold weather, it was nice to have a fire lit:

I said LIT!

That's better, nice and warm, if you're near enough!

The only visual downside of working in the snow is you can see how much mess you make when felling several trees into the same space through the day:

Well, it's sleeting/raining right now in Rye, though I think it will be snowing further inland - not sure what will be happening at the wood, but we'll find out soon enough.


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Saturday 18 December 2010

Birds and snow in the woods

Another busy week working in the woods, and two trips to London for work as well. Just one more day of work though, and then its full speed ahead to complete the coppicing by the end of the year. However, I did take a bit of time out to photograph birds, and try using the camera connected to the telescope. While setting the telescope up, I discovered why the bird food left on the ground disappears fast:


I was amazed at how close the Pheasant let me get (about 7-8m) - I guess the draw of the food was too strong! An interesting thing was that while the Pheasant was there, the small birds came to the suspended feeder despite me being nearby - I guess they assumed if I was a predator I'd go for the biggest bird around!

Anyway, here's the pics taken through the telescope. It's a 90mm SkyWatcher, of the Maksutov-Cassegrain design (if that means anything to you...) and I used it with an 40mm Meade eyepiece. I have an adaptor for my compact camera that clamps it onto the eyepiece. First, some Coal Tits:




A Great Tit:

And finally, a Robin:

and now breath in...

I love the way they puff up like that!

I'd still like to try the SLR with the telescope, but I need to investigate what attachment I can use to reduce the magnification, seeing as it can't have the eyepiece in it.

I also took some bird pics where we're working, but not with the telescope. I was really pleased to get these pics of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker preening. It's at the top of a big Ash tree, so the quality isn't great, but nice to see anyway:




There were Pheasants there too, this one up on a pollarded Hornbeam stool, pinching the food that was meant for the small birds:

We've actually done quite a bit of work as well as taking photos, knocking lots of trees down:


stacking up the logs:

and building new racks for more log stacks:

The weather's been mixed, some days starting with fog:

but then turning out nice later on:

Yesterday (Friday), there was frost when I got there, but all of a sudden this happened:

then half an hour later this happened:

It all looked quite picturesque, although at one point the snow was so thick that I couldn't see the corner of the field in this picture, quite a blizzard!

I was glad of the fire to keep warm when I stopped for lunch:

I noticed the heat from the fire was melting the snow in radial lines, with obstructions leaving cold 'shadows'. Obvious really, but it looked quite odd:


Anyway, I headed off well before dark, which was good, as Tracy called me for a lift home from school - they'd closed early and all the teachers had abandoned their cars because of the snow! I'd heard people wheel-spinning on the nearby hill while I was in the wood. I thought I might help someone when I got there, but the road was cluttered with 10-15 cars either stuck or abandoned, so there was no clear path to try towing people up without risking hitting other cars. I managed to get through, though I left the road and used the grass at the side at some points! 4WD, diff locks and mud/snow tyres are definitely the way to go when the weather's like this! The problem wasn't the amount of snow (1 inch), but that it fell into a frozen road and packed down to ice very quickly.

We should be getting a lot done in the woods this week, but will need to keep an eye on the weather before setting off...


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