This Blog allows visitors to keep up to date with news and events at the Great Wood. If you like the pictures shown here, you can click on them to see a larger image.
During winter 2017/8, woodland contractors worked on projects to diversify the wildlife habitats in the wood. At the east end of the wood, a number of poorly grown trees each side of the track leading northwards from the metal gate on the Ridgeway were felled to let in more light. Some will grow again from the stumps to create shrubby growth which is good nesting habitat for birds. Other herbaceous vegetation will grow to provide cover and food for many woodland insects.
Close to this track, a small block of sweet chestnut trees were felled. The trees had been planted many years ago and subsequently coppiced to provide a crop of poles. The stems had grown too large to be cut again for poles but will be split and used for cleft chestnut fencing.
At the opposite end of the wood, another track has been widened by felling birch. The birch had grown after this area had been felled in the early 1900s. Birch is usually the first species to colonise open ground after trees have been removed, so this was a good opportunity to restore a glade within the Great Wood.
Large-scale felling projects take place between September and March when ground conditions allow and to avoid disturbing nesting birds. The logs are left in situ until later in the summer when the ground is hard enough for timber trailers to extract them to a stacking area. The tops are also left until machinery can push them into heaps at the sides of the tracks – again to avoid damaging the woodland floor.
The first bluebell was spotted in the wood on 8th April. By the 21st, there were out right across the wood. Other small flowers can be found alongside the Brook near the swallowholes.
Bluebells and Apple Blossom in Brook Glade.
Since this block of Rhodi was cleared by the ‘Wednesday Group’, the stems (left so they can be winched out) have started to regrow. We finally got round to winching them all out, which is the only way of ensuring that mature rhodi growth does not return.
Storm Doris brought down several large trees across the main trails, which kept us busy for a few sessions.
A large hornbeam down on the very muddy Blue Trail.
This bench survived a direct hit!
While we were without our chainsaw operator, we were pleased to have the support of the Sharrards park team in felling hornbeams on the Blue Trail near Rowbourne Brook.
Down comes a hornbeam..
Over 3 sessions, a lot of trees were removed opening up this dark and muddy section to more sunlight.
The wood can look very special in mid-winter.
For many years the ‘concrete path’ has become overgrown and this was cleared. On the actual access path by the gate, the ground was cleared for the first time in many years.
All sorts of non-native species can get into the wood from adjacent gardens and a programme of removal was instigated. One of the largest incursions was Box Honeysuckle (Lonicera Nitida) behind one of the houses in Carbone Hill. The photos below show this before and after clearance.
Any storm is likely to cause a few birch to fall and ones across the paths are early targets for clearance.