Sunday, 27 November 2016

Autumn leaves, buzzards overhead and some Christmas gifts from the woods

Autumn is shifting towards winter in the woods, but there's some lovely sights right now, such as this carpet of leaves:

DSC_5462 Autumn woodland

The regrowth in the area we cut a year ago is still hanging on to a few leaves:
DSC_5459 Autumn woodland

But most of the trees are bare, and the sun is low in the sky:
DSC_5453 Autumn woodland

Just as I was finishing my lunch during a day of coppicing, I heard the familiar call of a Buzzard overhead. As pigeons scattered in terror, I grabbed the camera and managed to snap a few long-distance photos of them. One day I'd like to have my own hawk flying in the woods...
DSC_5477 Buzzards

DSC_5474 Buzzard

DSC_5475 Buzzard

It was back to work after that though - things are progressing pretty well, we're well past the oak tree you can see towards the rear of this picture:
DSC_5488 Coppicing

DSC_5495 Coppicing

Meanwhile, we've also been preparing some produce for the Rye Christmas Market.Quite a bit went into making these. They've been collected in the woodland, dried for over a year, stripped of soft dead wood, wire brushed and finally shaped so they are stable and have a place to take a tea-light candle.




That's all for now...


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Friday, 28 October 2016

A Hornets' Nest, False Death Cap and coppicing update

It's been a few weeks since I last posted, so there's quite a bit to say... First, here's a short video of a nest of European Hornets in our woodland. They're actually quite timid, and didn't bother me at all while I was making the video. I hear Asian Hornets are a different matter all together...

Also of interest is this mushroom - the False Death Cap (Amanita citrina), so named because of its similarity to the lethal Death Cap. It is allegedly edible, but given the risk of confusion with a killer, I don't think anyone actually eats it.




I was working along the edge of the area we're cutting today, so got my rope and pulley set-up out for the first time in a few years, to avoid trees falling over the fence into the wayleave. They're not big enough trees to need the winch, so the rope and pulley is a nice quick solution - I learned how to do all this on the Coppice Harvesting Efficiency Course some years ago...


Here's a sequence of photos taken from the same viewpoint at the end of each visit to the woods over the past few weeks. Sometimes part of the work done was out of shot, so not much change is visible, but I think you'll see we've made some progress...










That's all for now...


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Monday, 26 September 2016

The start of this year's coppicing

We made a start on this year's coppicing! The first job was to cut back the side of the track passing through the wayleave, so we can get the car in:

2016-09-17 13.51.38

2016-09-17 14.38.33

This is the area we're cutting, starting at the corner where the footpath meets the wayleave, and running alongside the wayleave in a strip:

Here's the same shot after the first day's work, which was mainly spent clearing back small stuff at the edge of the footpath and building a couple of racks to store the cut wood in:

I did manage to make a small start filling them though, one of Birch:

and one of Sweet Chestnut:

There's a bit more light getting in already!

One interesting thing I found was an old tree stump which we'd left when coppicing the footpath edge here 8 years ago. It had become detached from the roots, so I'm taking it home to clean up as it looks nice:


Back for more progress on the coppicing soon...


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Saturday, 3 September 2016

Digging a new culvert

Not content with repairing an old culvert, we've also been busy digging a new one. Here's the track before we started, with the pipe laid on top:


The water comes from a spring up the hill from the track:

The first step was to dig a trench for the pipe:


This time, as we didn't have any convenient lumps of concrete, we've driven several chestnut stakes into the ground either side of the pipe where the car wheels will cross it, to provide some extra support:

Having covered the pipe back over, we dug a sump on the uphill side:

And an outflow on the downhill side:


Here it is immediately after completion and being driven over once:

Just a couple of weeks later, the track is transformed!

We also put in some big logs on either side to act as 'kerbs' to retain the soil:

One other interesting point - I noticed a lot of wasps while I was working on this, and found they were heading into this hole:

Which on closer examination had a nest in it!

I'll be starting coppicing in a few weeks, and hope to have a bit more time to update the blog after that...


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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Repairing a culvert, butterfly spotting and a slow worm

The culvert we built 5 years ago in Sweep Wood has been in need of some maintenance... The downstream end had silted up, and the wooden 'kerb' had shifted:


The upstream end was a bit clogged up with debris too:

First step was to dig out all that debris, so I could get to the pipe to clear silt out of it:

Same again at the downstream end, which took a while due to the quantity of silt:

With that done I cut a new log to use as a 'kerb', and also made some stakes, all produced from wood we cut last winter just a short walk from the culvert:

I drove the stakes in with a post driver, cut them off, then re-pointed what was left over to make a extra stakes to drive in, Hopefully this will hold the new kerb in place for some years:

Here's the finished result, which will be much easier for people to walk over, and for me to drive over when the time next comes:



Just along the path from there is the area we coppiced last winter, which is growing back nicely now:

What's really striking is how many butterflies are there, when there would have been none a year ago. Here's a ragged looking Meadow Brown:

A couple of shots of a Comma:


And a Speckled Wood. In addition to these I also saw a Red Admiral, a Peacock and a Large White, but they didn't sit still for photos.

Back at the camp in Chestnut Coppice I was surprised to see a slow worm in the wood store when I went in there to get some logs after dark, but nice to know we've provided a dry home for it. I've also disturbed a wren sleeping in there at night as well!

That's all for now...


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