Saturday, 31 March 2018

Everything changes, everything remains the same

The snow has melted, the first day of Spring has come and gone and suddenly winter is over.
After the late February and mid-March snow the wood looked flattened and brown with collapsed bracken, and it was difficult to recall the lush green growth of Spring and Summer. Yet even in the snow the wild daffodils pushed through and the hazel catkins have been blooming by the road since February.

Wild daffodils (taken Mar 15th) showing early buds
Every spring I seem to be writing about the daffodils - like this post from last year or this one from 2016. This is because for me the daffs are the truest and most regular sign that the cold is on its way out and once again the wood is about start a new cycle. I can even put my finger on the date Spring arrived this year: 22nd -23rd March was the definite tipping point, the pivot between dormancy and potential. On the 22nd the day was chill and grey, and all looked flat and just - waiting. On the 23rd, the breeze was a couple of degrees warmer, a weak sun appeared and a faint green could be seen on the tops of the goat willow.

What is noticeable this Spring is how the wood has responded to the additional light from thinning the plantation and efforts on bracken control.The bluebells have extended their range by a further four metres or so into the areas which have been cleared of bracken. A variety of grasses,  ferns,  moss, bilberry, heather, figwort and wood sorrel are also appearing in spaces where there was once just bracken.

Almost impossible to find a way through the collapsed bracken

Contrast the dead bracken with the patches of green growth here, and many other places where bracken has been removed

 A surprise patch of wood anenome appeared last Spring. Before I had time to take a photo, the flowers had gone,  presumably eaten by deer. We hope they might re-appear this Spring and also  hope that the same fate isn't in store for the several clumps of  flowering primroses that have found a home in the dappled birch shade, in the entrance and parking area.

Woodland wildlife is starting to move too. The fishermen report lots of toad activity at the edge of the pond. The cold weather has meant the toads have been late emerging from hibernation, but are now evidently making up for lost time. The males have been leaving their hidey-holes in piles of leaves and logs, and have come down to the pond to wait at the edge of the water for their potential mates to arrive.

We saw two big buff tailed bumble bees  - possibly queens as they tend to emerge earliest - crawling over the moss in search of nectar and pollen. And the tawny owls are getting up earlier and earlier, starting calling from lunchtime onwards. Presumably they found little to eat in the snow and are now hunting as much as they can  - another species determined to get a move on. 

Monday, 19 March 2018

More snow!

Just when we thought we'd  missed the chance of snow this winter, there was a further wintry blast on Saturday night. Not nearly as much snow as in 2009 (see link in previous post) but better than nothing. Overcast and bitterly cold in the wood, it was warm and cosy for lunch in the cabin. Here's  a few pictures:

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Herbie the Snowdog

Somewhat  disappointed to have missed the snow excitement while away abroad basking in  sunshine and warmth. Watching  storks attending to their shambolic nests , and  swifts and swallows gathering before they make their long journey back to an English Spring  was some compensation for missing this 'extreme weather event'   but it  would  have been great to see the log cabin in the snow.  It last snowed in the wood during the winter of 2010/11 and before that in 2009 and the cabin wasn't built until 2014 . Let's hope there won't be too many years before the next snowfall. So, sadly there are  no snowy Old Copse photos  - but  for all Herbie fans here he is having a fabulous time  at Ditchling Beacon. He seems to have enjoyed his first snow experience as much as he loves  visiting Old Copse.