Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The new ride's done

Back in late September we (sort of) completed the development of the new ride. A good start, but it will need to be widened. We  felled  the birch at each side, and a forester was employed  to fell a few pines at the Hawkins Pond end. This has made a great visual difference to the wood, creating a clear view from the ride to the pond, with the large Scots Pine framed against the water.

For more photos- click link
Creating the new ride

Saturday, 16 July 2011


 We ignored the prolonged bad weather of winter 2010/11 and created a new ride to give views of the pond. It will do for the time being but needs to be widened. Some of the spindly  birch has been cleared around the sallow to create better conditions for this to thrive in the planned ' willow grove'. There's some regeneration along the ride edge and in the birch clearing, though  regrowth might have  been eaten by deer. There's some improvement along the road edge and at the sunnier end of the ride as a result of  our determined bracken control .

 The kingfisher didn't  appear again after the winter, and although a single great crested grebe was seen earlier in the year, there has been no breeding this summer.  No sign of the white admiral butterfly either. It is not clear if this is because they have been absent, or just been missed. Perhaps  rideside clearing has destroyed some  honeysuckle they use as a foodplant, although there is  still plenty of it growing  in shady locations next to the ride edges.

Sightings: A  group  of newly fledged birds including most of the tits,  young nuthatch, (with much duller plumage than their colourful parents) , and a family of treecreepers. Blackcap and chiffchaff were singing in the wood, rather surprising ,   as the wood lacks the shrubby growth they prefer.
A  grass snake on the ride,  sidling away rapidly up the bank . A short distance further on,  the loud  screeching of jays, which continued for some time before  3 emerged from the pines in pursuit of a tawny owl, whom they had disturbed from its roost.  Over the willow grove,  a small bank vole emerged from the scrub to explore nearby  logs  holding  a piece of bread in his paws.  A Roe deer, an unusual sight at Old Copse, and redder and springier than  the Fallow deer we see all the time. 

Friday, 17 June 2011


This year geese have been flying in and departing several times a day. They use the full length of the Pond to get airborn and clear the trees at the pond's southern end. Usually and often alternately these are either a pair of canada geese or greylag geese. Neither have nested.

For the past two summers great crested grebes have produced a brood on the pond, three in 2010. A pair were present for a brief time early in the spring this year (2011) and a singleton more so, but they disappeared without breeding.

In the winter siskins were feeding in the tops of the birch and alder and on one occasion the siskin search led to redpoll. Neither species have been seen since leaves appeared.

In March ,  first sighting of a grey wagtail  feeding on insects in a wet area - a shallow waterlogged area in the alder grove.

Last year (2010) the only nest discovered had been made by a blackbird in the top of the 'tipi' structure made of long poles on the side of the ride. This had been constructed when there was minimal disturbance during the week. Unfortunately the female blackbird was spooked by nearby timber moving activities at the weekend and the nest was abandoned. Many of the woodland birds have produced young ,  including  fledgling marsh tits, a red listed species.

A  bluetits nest hole was seen high in the alder grove. Around the third week of May a further bluetits nest was found in a deep crevice at the foot of a birch about two feet from the ground along the the Pond path. That same week  loud 'feed me' calls were located coming from a nest hole about twenty feet or so up a willow tree in the alder grove. This was a great spotted woodpeckers nest. The adults appeared to be wary of going to the hole  while we could be seen so we retreated to cover where we could just about see the hole. We waited patiently for some time before discovering the activity was at a second and less obvious hole higher in the same tree. Patience was rewarded with views of the adult perching outside to feed the young birds inside. After the adult departed, often a head would briefly appear from inside the hole. Two days later they were seen again. This time the almost fully fledged young had their bodies half way out of the hole when being fed giving excellent views of their juvenile plumage with red cap.These birds had fully fledged by June and fledgling woodpeckers and tits could be seen and heard.

In June an active corvids nest was discovered at the top of a scots pine within the alder grove. Unfortunately a clear view was not possible. Calls suggested jackdaw but there were carion crows also calling in the locality.On 13th June a heron was spotted landing on a fishing swim by the pond.

In May a very young mallard family with eight ducklings was seen on the pond but they seem to hide in the rushes.

 Since the two prolonged snowfalls and frozen pond of winter 2009/10 the  kingfisher was only seen once in 2010. Since a further period of snow and frozen pond at Christmas 2010 the kingfisher has not been seen so far in 2011. The unresolved mystery is a call  heard several times in April which may have been a rarely seen lesser spotted woodpecker.