Monday, 9 January 2017

Coppicing completed and Christmas lunch in the woods

Well, the winter's work in the woods is now done! Just for fun, I put my GoPro camera up one of the last few trees to be felled:



The final few days of coppicing in 2016 including some pretty chilly ones:
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and on the day we actually finished it was too foggy to get a photo of the whole area:
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Here's now it looked a couple of days into the work, earlier in the autumn:
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Here's the same view now, followed by some views from other angles:
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This one's looking back from the far end. You can see we left a few trees standing - these included Oak, Hornbeam, Alder Buckthorn and a wild Apple. The idea is to give them a bit of an advantage over the regrowing Sweet Chestnut and Birch to increase the diversity in the woods.
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Meanwhile, over in Sweep Wood, the Sycamore buds are beginning to swell a little. I guess they noticed that the Winter solstice has passed....
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The Honeysuckle is also growing leaves. Not Spring yet, but the plants are planning ahead...
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Even though the work's done, when I've been to the woods since I've always taken a snack for the Robin which got used to my company:
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The other birds are busily enjoying the bird feeder too:
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I also got a puzzle solved thanks to friend who's a better bird-spotter than I am. These birds had been flying over the wood regularly, but I had no idea what they were:
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Well - now I know they are Shelducks, mostly juvenile females apparently. There's a lake not far away, which is presumably where they are coming from.

We did have a brief break in the work for Christmas, and joined a couple of friends in a wood adjoining ours for lunch on Christmas Day (Red Thai Curry - we're not traditional...):
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Finally, with the coppicing done, I also went to help my friend Rich with some saw milling over in Tunbridge Wells:


Looking forward to Spring in the woods now, though hoping for some snow first!

Mike

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Monday, 12 December 2016

Frosty days and splitting wood the Norwegian way

It's been frosty in the wood recently! This created an opportunity for a photos... There's a few below, and you can view more here.

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I've changed the way I split logs now - I used to start the split with a maul (a heavy axe), and then use a sledgehammer and wedges to finish it off. But after reading Norwegian Wood a year ago, I tried a new method that requires only the maul. Rather than describe it, I'll leave you to watch a 1 minute video:


With the cold the Robins are becoming much bolder - we're working across the territories of two or three of them this winter.
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Though the really lucky one has the log I sit on at lunchtime in its territory, and I always leave some crumbs....
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I found some evidence of another bird, and only because I walked a short distance to coppice this wind-blown stool so I could get lots of straight sections to use for making stakes:
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On top of the coppice stool were these owl pellets:
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I picked some open and you can see the fragments of bone mixed in with the fur. Shame they don't eat squirrels really...
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Oh, and I did get a nice pile of stakes from the wood I cut!
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The coppicing is proceeding well, we've got several stacks of wood seasoning now, for use in a couple of years' time:
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At the other end of the area we're cutting there's not actually that much left to do, so it will probably be done by the end of the year, if there's enough good weather coinciding with days off work.
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Mike

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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:

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The regrowth in the area we cut a year ago is still hanging on to a few leaves:
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But most of the trees are bare, and the sun is low in the sky:
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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...
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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:
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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.
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That's all for now...

Mike

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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.

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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...

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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...

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That's all for now...

Mike

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