Monday, 15 February 2010

Woodland Birds

There is a reasonable diversity of birds present within Old Copse,  a number of these are likely to be breeding , while others may use it simply as a feeding resource.

Many of these are birds associated with un-managed woodland, and prefer tall mature trees. In the corvid or crow family, jays, magpies and carrion crow are all evident and probably breeding in the wood. There are a fair number of twiggy nests in the treetops at a high level, in both coniferous and deciduous woodland areas and their raucous cries can be heard within the woodland area. Wood pigeon are also frequently seen and the habitat would seem well suited to nesting for this species.

Other birds that favour neglected woodland include woodpeckers and treecreepers, which benefit from dying wood associated with this type of forest. A pair of great spotted woodpeckers were seen on several occasions during the summer and a single bird has also been seen over the winter period. They seem to favour the coniferous part of the woodland, although have also been seen and heard in deciduous woodland. A single treecreeper has also regularly been spotted winding its way up the trunk of one tree before moving on to spiral again from the foot of the next. Nuthatch works only down the trunk, and its distinctive call and beautiful colours always make this an exciting bird to find. Both these species prefer deciduous woodland. We suspect there are a number of both these birds in the wood and we will be watching closely for signs of breeding activity during the nesting season.

The green woodpecker has been heard but not seen. This bird prefers grassy areas, where it likes to forage for ants. We hope we may be able to tempt it into our wood by managing the grassy ride and extending this habitat through the introduction of a new ride and some areas of glade.

Flocks of tits have been seen flitting through the wood in search of food during the winter months. These have included the common species of blue, great and long tailed tits. We are becoming increasingly proficient at identifying their calls and song, which will be very useful in the summer months when the fresh foliage makes it far less easy to spot them in the high branches. While there is some evidence of these birds breeding, the number of old nests present is significantly less than for the larger corvids.  Some may be nesting in holes in trunks, but it may be that the lack of leafy growth at lower levels makes the habitat less suitable for their needs. Increasing the diversity of age, and therefore height of tree, is a key management objective to encourage the raising of young.

We have the red listed marsh tit in the wood. At least one pair has been seen, and since it is a sedentary species there is a good chance that they will be nesting within the wood.

Finches are far less common in the wood than tits. Chaffinch has been heard and may be more common in summer than winter, when they are known to move to other habitats. A female and juvenile bullfinch ( the young have no black cap) were seen feeding on the rowan berries last summer. A male was also seen near the woodland edge during the snowy winter period. This bird has recently been downgraded from red listed to amber listed conservation status.

Blackbird and robin are commonly seen in the wood, and occasionally a song thrush. Wren are also present, and have been seen progressing down the ride, pausing at each pile of cut brash to search for insects. There have been no records of dunnock; these prefer hedges and more open shrubby growth but may be found at woodland margins.

 The number of summer visitors such as warblers is uncertain A blackcap family was in a tree near the entrance to the wood, which is a slightly more open area, and unidentified 'little brown jobs' were seen disappearing into the shrub near the gate. However, there is very little of this habitat currently available. Much of the woodland is too dense to allow this type of growth and work to open up the ride over the winter period may encourage the development of some shrubby lower level growth, but this will take some time, and is unlikely to support such birds this summer. Chiffchaff may well visit for feeding purposes, even if there is a lack of suitable nest sites.Pheasant have regularly been seen and heard around the wood.

The coniferous woodland contributes its own birdlife, with goldcrest and coal tit favouring this habitat and being relatively common in the wood. Other woodland birds that may appreciate this habitat include crossbill, siskin and redpoll. None of these have been seen, although they have been recorded at similar woodlands nearby.

Buzzards have been seen circling over the ride and a smaller brown hawk flew low over the pond. Owls hoot and swoop low over the water on summer evenings. Woodlands are used by birds of prey for both nesting and feeding so there could be more positive identifications in the future.

Kingfisher, mallard, mandarin duck, moorhen, canada geese and great crested grebe can all be seen on the pond. 

Monday, 1 February 2010


Autumn and at least 50 different varieties of fungi can be seen.  Fly agaric ,  russulas,  false chanterelles beneath the pines, and jelly fungus sprouting from birch trees. Penny bun and milk caps covering the forest floor, bracket fungus on standing and fallen trunks. Porcelain fungus  on the beech tree and numerous others in all colours, shapes and sizes. Hedgehog fungus growing near a small gill at the beginning of December.Bracken and beech in autumn colours,  the oak leaves hung on longest.