Friday 29 December 2017

Birds, drones and Christmas in the woods

The coppicing still isn't finished... there's only a day's work left to do, but I've been ill, so have had to take a break from the woodland work. I did still manage to get up there a bit for some less strenuous activities though, such as cooking a Christmas lunch for us and a friend:

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We've changed the birds' food too - they seemed to be rejecting several types of seed that were in the mix we were using in the feeder, so we tried peanuts instead, which proved an immediate hit:


I also managed to get some shots of a buzzard coming to visit, though I doubt the peanuts would be of much interest...




Finally, we also had a different kind of aerial visitor:

This was a DJI drone, brought by Nate of, who used it to carry out inspection surveys of some of our oak trees, to check branches for disease or damage that wouldn't be visible from the ground. Here's one of the videos:

Meanwhile, back at home, our cockatiels have been eating chilli peppers...

Hope you have a great 2018, see you in the New Year!


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Sunday 17 December 2017

Nearing the end of coppicing...

With the colder weather and the lack of leaves on the trees, it's easier to get photos of birds in the woods, so here's a Marsh Tit and a Blue Tit:



The coppicing is proceeding well. Here's a photo from the end of day 1:


And here's a photo from the end of yesterday:


Don't worry if it looks a bit drastic, the trees will all grow back and while they're doing it there'll be a great habitat for the wildlife.

Here's a few other views of the area we've been coppicing this year:




There's only about 20 stools left to coppice now, but they'll take longer than you'd think as there's a lot of hazel in there, and processing it is a slow job.


Still, we should have it done by the end of the year, fitting it around work and other commitments...


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Wednesday 18 October 2017

Fallow Buck in the Woods

I'm not sure who was most surprised at this meeting, the Fallow Buck or me... He didn't seem to see me at first, giving me time to get my phone out and take this video:

Meanwhile the area cleared by our coppicing is growing, as are the log stacks:

I've saved some straighter lengths of hazel and sweet chestnut for other uses - in fact, some of the hazel has already gone to a friend for making besom brooms:

I've also been making these pegs from branches in the hazel, for future use layering trees to fill in gaps in the coppice:

And finally, yes, we did get the weirdly coloured sun in the woods too, due to a mixture of Saharan dust and forest fires in Portugal. Very strange seeing a sunset-coloured sun in the middle of the day:

That's all for now...

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Saturday 7 October 2017

Storm damage and the start of this season's coppicing

We've had some windy weather over the past week, and a branch fell from quite high in an oak tree, damaging another branch on the way down. Having removed the one that fell, the damaged one was still attached:


As I cut up the fallen one, it was obvious it hadn't been healthy, with the branch divided in two with a rotten bit in the middle. Hard to spot when it's high up a tree though...


The Tirfor winch got it down easily (there's a video of me using it on another branch here):

I found the oak was pretty easy to spilt using the method I learned from Norwegian Wood:

So before long I had a nice pile of wood stacked to season for future use:

I left the knotty bits for wildlife use, though I expect Tracy's class will appreciate them for their dens as well!

This season's coppicing is also underway now, here's a couple of views, each with a photo from early on, and after a few days' work.




One of the trees I've coppiced in this area is a Hornbeam, and I've cut it a short distance above the ground to see if I can get it to grow as a mini-pollard.

My goal is that it might end up looking like this one, growing a short distance away:

I've also been trying some layering, which basically creates a clone of a coppice stool to fill in gaps. You make a peg from a branch, like this:
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Then bend a stem of the coppice stool over to touch the ground - you usually need to slice part way through it near the base to enable this.
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You then scrape off the bark where it's touching the ground, and hammer the peg in to hold it in place, with a bit of soil over the top:
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The idea is that it will develop roots, and after a couple of years can be severed from the original coppice stool. Time will tell if it works in this case...


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Sunday 9 July 2017

Camping in the woods - zip line and a new way to open a wine bottle

June was a busy month for work at Ashden, but towards the end things calmed down, and I had several friends from the office come down for a weekend camping.


We actually cooked dinner for 14 in the evening!

As well as lots of time spent cooking and eating, we also had a tour of the woods, as some had not visited before.

And we learned a new trick - how to open a bottle of wine using a tree and a shoe!

The other highlight of the trip was setting up a zip line in the woods, mostly using existing equipment I have for winching trees over:

Although there was an earlier version that didn't work so well!

Looking forward to some more camping trips over the summer, hopefully the weather will stay nice!


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Saturday 27 May 2017

Trailcam video: Deer, Badger, and Fox in the woods

We've got a new trail cam! Here's some video from the first week or so of its use in the woods, showing a deer, badger and fox:

Apart from a few social visits, we've not been doing much in the woods for the past few weeks, partly to avoid disturbing any nesting birds. But we've seen plenty of birds elsewhere, here's a Kestrel, Mallards with their ducklings and a Coot with its youngster as well:




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Sunday 2 April 2017

First Bluebell in the woods!

We found our first Bluebell of this Spring in the woods yesterday!


The Wood Anemones are looking great as well now:


And in one of the dens Tracy's class built back in the autumn, the flowers have moved in... it's quite bizarre, I can only assume the shelter from frost made a difference and resulted in dormant seeds sprouting. The entrance does face roughly south, which might have helped trap heat.

Lots of the trees are now coming into leaf as well, such as Hornbeam:


And even some of the Sweet Chestnut:

Ferns are unravelling themselves, but still look a bit alien right now:

The sun's brought out the butterflies too, we've seen several Brimstone, and a few Peacock as well:

But it's not all been strolling around in the sun, I've taken advantage of the tracks drying out to start moving some logs - these are going to be milled into planks and beams for building stuff:

Back later with more bluebells...


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