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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Sunday, 19 March 2017

Felling oak trees and signs of Spring

I've been busy with work the past couple of months, but am now back in the woods more often, and there are clear signs of Spring in the wood at last - the Wood Anemones are back :-)

My friend Rich has just finished some coppicing in his wood, and on Friday I gave him a hand thinning some oak trees. While we were at it I got a couple of videos of the trees being felled, and decided to place my GoPro camera in a dangerous spot...

Looking forward to the return of green to the woods!

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Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Winter sunrise at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

With the coppicing completed for the winter, there's time for other things, like enjoying a frosty sunrise at Rye Harbour while waiting for my car to get it's MOT done. Here's a few photos, all taken using my phone rather than a proper camera (with some post-processing of course).

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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:

and on the day we actually finished it was too foggy to get a photo of the whole area:

Here's now it looked a couple of days into the work, earlier in the autumn:

Here's the same view now, followed by some views from other angles:



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.

Meanwhile, over in Sweep Wood, the Sycamore buds are beginning to swell a little. I guess they noticed that the Winter solstice has passed....

The Honeysuckle is also growing leaves. Not Spring yet, but the plants are planning ahead...

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:

The other birds are busily enjoying the bird feeder too:


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:


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...):


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!


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