Saturday 30 April 2011

All the trees are growing!

My parents are visiting, and yesterday we took a walk in Sweep Wood to see how it's getting on after our two winters coppicing there. And it's looking great!


All the trees we cut last winter are growing again now, here's Sweet Chestnut, Hornbeam and Alder:



The year-old trees are doing well too, here's some Ash back in leaf:

And of course, until the trees grow back to close the canopy, everything on the ground is going crazy:

Compare this to a similar bit of the wood a few years ago:
Quite a difference, eh?

Here's another one from a few years ago:
but this area doesn't look so different yet for ground flora, as we only just cut it - it'll need another year's growth to change visibly.

The bluebells have just started to pass their peak in this part of the wood now, so here's a few photos, as there may not be many more.


The ride between Sweep Wood and Chestnut Coppice is looking pretty good too:

and not far from there is some Hawthorn in bloom - a bit later than the ones you might have seen in hedgerows, as it's shaded to some extent. But once again, there's a coppicing benefit here, as this is a tree that didn't flower at all until we cut along that ride:

One final exciting thing we saw, which bodes well for the summer, was hundreds of caterpillars on our crab apple tree. I'm no good at identifying them, so any help appreciated! They did an amazing job of looking like twigs:

Though when they do it on the edge of a leaf it's probably a bit less effective as camouflage:

Anyway, that's all for now. We walked some of the High Weald Landscape Trail today, so there'll be pics from that in due course...


Click here to read the rest of this post.

Friday 29 April 2011

The Land Rover Defender has gone...

Our Defender has now been sold... We're sad to see it go, so here's a few photos of some of the fun we had with it.

Moving logs:



In the snow:

With family visiting:

Near Dungeness, soon after we bought it:

Of course there were less happy times too, like when some numpty skidded into us on ice - though his radiator, bonnet and lights were busted while we had a bent bumper!

and when the clutch broke, while we were in the wood

Anyway, we have a Suzuki Grand Vitara now, which will hopefully be more reliable and practical, even if it doesn't have as much character.

Before we let the Defender go, we did have one last job for it, moving some more logs! Here's the pile after 12 trips back and forth:


We left some barrier tape round the pile to at least indicate to any passing children that it's not a safe place to climb. Doesn't mean they won't, of course, but we've done our bit.

Lastly, the Bluebells in Sweep Wood are looking amazing now! I'm going to get some more photos soon, but here's one to keep you going:


Click here to read the rest of this post.

Saturday 23 April 2011

Move logs while the sun shines

OK, I know you're meant to make hay while the sun shines, but we don't have any hay, it's too early in the year, and this weather is great for moving logs. In the winter we leave the logs stacked near where they are felled to start seasoning, as moving them straight out of the wood would make a real mess of the tracks.


But now it's been (abnormally) dry here for weeks, the tracks are firm enough to drive on without making a mess, so it's back to this game again...

Back near the camp, we laid out some bearers on one of the old rides we wont need to drive on:

and stacked the wood as it came down, here's the result of four trips in the land rover:

To the left of the oak tree you can see a pile of smaller wood that we sorted while unloading - this will be for making kindling.

The woodland itself is greening up at an incredible rate:

and the few pears we're permitting one of our trees to grow are coming on OK:

Sadly, there's another reason for moving logs right now - we're selling the land rover and our little Aygo, and buying a more efficient 4x4 so we can just have a single car. I'll really miss the land rover, as it great for jobs like moving logs, but having moved house we've decided we need the space saved by having a single car, and it'll save us paying two lots of insurance and servicing, even if we do spend a bit more on fuel as a result of the Aygo going.


Click here to read the rest of this post.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Close up experience with an Adder!

Well, look what we saw in the woods this weekend!


We have of course seen Adders before, but this was the closest I've been able to get to one, and it wasn't in a hurry so I got plenty of pictures. Here's some more:




I especially like that last one. It's not as sharp as I'd have liked, but I'm very pleased to have captured the forked tongue. The amazing thing was that as we stood there quietly watching, the snake appeared to be unaware of our presence, and it was only when I took some steps closer (after taking the photos), that it started to hurry out of our way.

Anyway, it was great to see the snake, not least because with the leaves coming out the time for photos of birds is past - this was the best I could manage this weekend - the back end of a Blue Tit!

Talking of leaves, here's the top of an oak tree:

The Sweet Chestnut coppiced last winter is also growing like crazy now:

and the Wild Service leaves are coming on too:

Here's a view down the public footpath, where we coppiced the edges a couple of years ago. We've not yet decided when to cut again along this strip, but we don't want to let it grow up again, as we want to keep the light coming in as it's brought some real benefits for the flora and fauna.

Talking of which, along the path we saw this Common Violet growing.

Nothing special in itself, but before this year there were none of these along the path, so clearly the extra light we let in has made a difference.

Back near our camp, the fruit trees are all doing well. Here's the blossom on the wild Apple:

and here's some on one of the other trees we planted:

Some of them have finished, so we're picking off the flower heads to stop fruit growing (again), so the tree can devote its energy to growing bigger. This year we might leave just one or two to grow into fruit though.

OK, the next lot of pictures are all from the area of Sweep Wood where we've been working the last two winters.

It's the busiest part of the wood for flowers. Let's start with Bluebells, which are further on here than anywhere else in the wood, though still not quite at their peak:



A few weeks ago a couple of people identified a plant for me as Yellow Archangel. Well, they were right, as these pictures now prove:

I'd assumed this was a garden escapee, but on further research I've discovered it's often found in woodland, though not as common as it used to be, so nice to see it here.

We've also seen some Purple Dead Nettle (or Purple Archangel as it is sometimes known). This is more of a wasteland plant than a woodland one, but it's growing in a scrubby area right at the top of Sweep Wood, so maybe that's not surprising. Apparently it's a great nectar source for insects at this time of year, so again a nice one to see.


Nearby are various other plants you'd expect in scrub land, such as Goose Grass and Dandelion:


and not far away are genuine garden escapees, such as Forget-me-not, and one I don't know:


Anyway, that's the end of the flower show. We could actually do with some rain now, but there's none forecast for weeks yet...


Click here to read the rest of this post.