Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Signs of Spring at Old Copse

On a beautiful early Spring day we did a very rare thing, for us anyway, of not getting stuck into work immediately, but instead, just strolling round the wood to see what was emerging.  We checked out the wild daffodils at the south end and found about a dozen clumps, few flowers as yet, but they appear to be spreading slowly despite being in a dry and fairly shady area. Earlier in the day we had visited Newstead Ghyll, further up the road from Old Copse, where there are a great many wild daffodils growing in a damp, open clearing next to the stream.

For an expert's  view on wild daffodils,and other woodland flora, visit ecologist and botanist Alan Waterman's blog

Only a few clumps of wild daffodils at Old Copse

Though they can be found in abundance not far away

The wood remains very wet after months of rain - the annual flooding is receding  but water glistens and rushes everywhere.

We were hoping to find  a few wood anenomes and primroses but found none, except a few patches of primroses near the south gate, although they grow not far away in St.Leonard's Forest. Bluebells are forcing their way up through the mud and honeysuckle, mosses, ferns, Lords and Ladies have started to come up as well.

Also seen; the first bumblebee of the year; and seen regularly by a fisherman on the pond, two kingfishers, one who lives down at the South end of the Pond, and the other at the North end. It seems that fishing rods provide an excellent perch for these birds to keep an eye out for minnows,  so here's a library picture (unfortunately not taken on our pond).

We've had some success with propagating hazel
through cuttings, so today some more were cut , to be potted up and planted out in the autumn when they've rooted. A  holly, blackthorn and hazel hedge is planned near the new enlarged entrance, with more hazel planted along the bluebell ride through the birch.


Spot the Grebe - it can just be seen hiding in the reeds over on the Hammerpond


Monday, 7 March 2016


At 8am the sunshine was brilliant, but the forecast wasn't too good,  -  strong  wind, wintry showers, sleet, maybe some snow, perhaps some sun, but as Herbie the dog doesn't mind what the weather's like when a day at the wood is in the offing, and we didn't want to disappoint him, we decided to chance it. Forestry work takes place all through the year, but the winter months tend to be the busiest, especially for felling, so there's no point in  moaning about the weather, or using it as an excuse not to do any work .

As we drove north the skies became ominously dark and soon we were in the middle of a storm of wind blown snow and sleet. It only lasted 10 - 15 minutes, and by the time we arrived at Old Copse the sun was shining again.  That was the pattern of the day, - freezing cold wind, rain and sleet, alternating with brilliant sunshine. But it's great to see the wood in all weathers. You don't see weather in town in such a close up way. Today you could see the weather happening; the heavy showers were announced by darkening skies followed by strong gusts of wind which made the trees, especially the pines, bend alarmingly. Then the rain would come sheeting down.

So today we were right in the middle of the weather, getting tasks done when the rain held off and the sun came out, and then dashing for shelter to the cabin to watch another blast of  gusty rain and wind pass through the wood, while warming up at the stove and drinking tea. An exhilarating day.

We  love a wood burning stove on a cold day

Visitors: We met Martin (bird expert) between showers -  he is contributing to an RSPB  survey of Marsh Tits, Willow Tits and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers who might (or might not) live in the wood. He had a tape of bird sounds with him, presumably to attract birds in the vicinity, but had to give up on this today because of the noise made by the wind in the trees. He is waiting for the next still, sunny day.