20 May 2020

2020 / 33

14:00 – 17:30 (with Simon Holloway, Forestry ranger)
Hot, sunny, still and dry. 24°C.

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I have only been in the Wood a couple of minutes when Simon waves from the gate. It’s good to see him again, and I turn down towards his parking ‘bay’ with a keen smile.
Something catches my eye at the side of the track. Its a damselfly, and settles a few metres ahead on a beech leaf in the sunshine. The annual encounter with a Beautiful Demoiselle – a lovely coppery sheen glinting on this female’s folded wings.
An Orange-tip goes past too while we exchange greetings, followed by a tattered and tired looking Peacock which might suggest we are going to do well on the butterfly transect today. But it’s not to be, and Simon reports that numbers are equally low across his woodlands.
Over the next ninety minutes, we had only Brimstones and Holly Blue. Admittedly 8 of the latter – which is a good show – and both males and females. Nothing at all on sections 2, 3 and 4. The weather, though hot, has been too dry perhaps? And the frost last week will not have helped – Speckled Woods especially have been held back. The wet winter will also be a significant factor – disappointing afer a poor year in 2019 too

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Foxgloves on the clearfell (in fact, all round the Wood) are set to have a fantastic year. Within a week, I think this whole view will be covered with purple flowers.

Here is an oak growing out from a birch tree:

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Back up at the top of Q2 in the wayleave, Simon brings the truck down so we can select gloves and tools fo rthe clearance work. I cut the bracken with a scythe where last year’s fallen growth is at its thickest, and Simon follows behind raking. The idea is to clear as much mulch as possible from the ground and expose the soil, giving the dormant flowers like Violet and Wood Anemone a chance to germinate and reclaim the space.
As we work, Long-tailed Tits, Blackcaps and a single Buzzard come past, curious but not unduly bothered. It’s not the best time of day or weather for birds, and uncomfortable for men in the afternoon sunshine. I get bitten by everything that moves.

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Simon explained a new technique they are experimenting with at the east end clearfell. I had seen something odd, and wondered what was goin gon:

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The young trees are being ‘dressed’ with a small wrap of sheep’s wool to deter grazing by deer. Apparently, they don’t like the smell…

Butterflies quiet, but Brown Silver-line moths have emerged and seem to be about in good numbers. Also a black and white ‘something’ that Simon photographed (Common carpet…?) I am rubbish at moths…

Flowers abundant today – Greater Stitchwort, Greater Celandine, Herb Robert, Germander Speedwell (Ox-eye Daisy). Bugle also doing well, but already the Violets seem to be going over. Grass too is already producing seedheads – the season is progressing too quickly and the hot dry weather is bringing summer rather ahead of itself.

 

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