Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Deer Monitoring

Recently we put up  three deer monitoring enclosures in different areas of the wood. The purpose of these is to observe  what grows on the ground when the deer are kept out. They'll stay in place for a at least 2  years. Although we suspect, and there certainly seems to be evidence, that the deer eat almost everything that tries to regenerate, we don't know for sure how the wood might be without their depredations. But we should get an  idea of the difference it would make with far fewer deer.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Encounter with an Owl and a few other birds

Owl in a beech tree (library picture)

On the afternoon after Milo's party I was strolling around in the birch at the top (North) end of the wood when I saw a dark shape three quarters of the way up a tall beech tree. Creeping closer, the shape swiveled its head and resolved itself into a tawny owl. We hear them hooting a lot but clear sightings are much rarer. He looked at me with his large black eyes and I stared back. We stared at each other for a full two minutes before he swooped off on a hunting expedition. Presumably he was starting out early because the night before had been too wet for hunting. Either that or his prey had been put off by the techno coming from the yurt. Naturally I did not have a camera, but the above library picture gives something of the feel of the encounter.

It's not easy, this wild-life photography. Only a few birds move slowly enough to have their picture taken. Sue took this one of a pheasant strolling nonchalantly through the wood.

A fisherman told us he's been trying for ages to get a good picture of a kingfisher zipping by on its regular pond side beat. Although it passes every hour at the same height it's always just out of shot.

Also seen and heard:  A cuckoo was heard for the first time today, calling from just across the Hawkins Pond . It's rather late this year, as it is usually heard in April. Two moorhens were seen with their young broods on the pond, and two Greater spotted woodpeckers in the Scots Pine.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Encouraging Dormice

Today we took delivery of 10 dormouse nest tubes kindly donated by the Sussex Wildlife Trust. We've started attaching some of them to level branches at about chest height,  among the beech trees in the birch side of the wood. Dormice are said to favour hazel coppice. There is a small area of 'overstood' hazel coppice in the wood neglected for many years,  where we'll install some tubes and hope a dormouse finds them.

Badly neglected hazel coppice. Another important job to tackle. 

However, surveys have shown that dormice are more adaptable than previously thought, and have been found nesting in a wide variety of habitats, even in gardens and conifer plantations. So we hope to be lucky and find evidence of these charming, but rare and elusive little creatures. The nesting tubes are of a very simple construction, so we'll be making some more to provide as many convenient homes as possible for any stray dormice.The tubes must be checked every month or so for evidence of use. If there is food in the tube then it is likely to be a wood mouse rather than a dormouse. Ditto, dead leaves - dormice only use fresh green leaves in their nests. As for droppings, we're not at all sure if we could tell what sort of mouse they belong to. So, it's not going to be easy to find firm evidence of their presence in Old Copse.

Dormouse nest tube (library picture)

Dormouse nest (library picture)

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Woodland Wedding

A happy,  relaxed occasion was enjoyed by everyone, and the weather was kind,  despite forecasts of heavy rain all day.