I haven’t posted anything in recent months, so here is a catch-up on activities.
The Dormice monitoring didn’t find any Dormice, unfortunately. But the boxes were found to have been used by insects, birds and a pair of field mice, see above.
In recent months, we have had assistance from the Herts & Middx Wildlife Trust. This has helped considerably with the major project to clear the invasive Sycamore around the Yellow Trail to the east of the Cottage. This will create a more open glade where one can admire the grove of mixed Ash and Oak.
We have also been thinning out the Birch trees in the ‘Heather Glade’ to the north of the car park. Here is Howard bringing down one of the very tall specimens.
The Friends group is leading a guided walk in the wood on Sunday 29th July at 2.30pm. This is a good opportunity to come for a walk in the wood and learn about its diversity of wildlife, its history and how it is currently being managed. Meet at the car park. Bring binoculars if you are interested in birds or butterflies. Bring suitable footwear as the wood is very muddy at present. The walk should last about 2 hours (but if you’d like to leave before this, that’s fine). We hope to serve refreshments after the walk back at the Office.
Donations to the Friends Group £2 (under 16s free)
More information from 01707 873778
The wet weather has held back the butterflies this year. May and June were very disappointing. The annual eruption of Ringlets is now however in full swing and good numbers of Meadow Browns are also to be seen. Yesterday I saw a magnificent Silver-Washed Fritillary, below. Purple Emperors have been reported at their usual location. I have updated the butterflies page with some of this year’s sightings.
Today, along with members from other groups, several of the Friends Group were trained in the use of winches.
Ken tries his hand with the winch.
This birch was lifted bodily off the ground before it wanted to pull away from the oak where it was ‘hung up’. But eventually it came down!
Howard tries a slightly easier example – a slim hornbeam is brought to the ground.
In recent days, anyone walking along the rides in the wood cannot have missed the eruption of St Marks Flies. They are very black and have very noticeable dangling back legs.
The paths in the woods may be waterlogged with the rain, but the upside is that all the brooks and even normally dry gullys are full of water, which adds to the sounds in the wood.
I took advantage of the respite in the rain yesterday to carry out the butterfly transects for the week. The warm 19°C and sun brought out the early Orange Tip butteflies – 12 seen in all over the two transects. Photos can be seen here.
As I didn’t get to the work party yesterday, it seemed like a good idea to take a walk in the Wood today (Saturday). I decided to carry out the first butterfly transect of the year, but with a cloudy sky and temperature of 12°C, none were to be seen. However, there was still plenty to see and hear. As shown above, the first bluebells are now out in their traditional locations, along with other early spring flowers. I saw a Green Woodpecker along Middle Way and a nice view of a Buzzard in the grove of Sweet Chestnut trees at the end of the transect. The Nuthatches are very audible at this time of the year with their repeated peep-peep call. A cuckoo was heard in the plantations to the north of the Wood. After all the rain, the streams and brooks were in flood and the paths very muddy. Returning to the car park, a Willow Warbler was calling in the picnic area, a favourite place for this species for the last couple of years. I made a mental note of several fallen trees across some of the minor paths – something for future work parties now that large scale clearance has ceased for the breeding season.
Work on the clearance work on the Yellow Trail just east of the bridge over Grimes Brook has included clearing the alignment of the old track which would have been used before the bridge was built over the brook. This has revealed the remains of culverts over the brook and another small channel to the east. It is known from old maps that this track was originally completely straight, being one of the major paths for the extraction of wood in the 19th century. In the photo below you can see the bridge to the right where the path eventually swings round to the left. To the left can be seen the cleared old alignment.
When approaching from the east, the clearance gives the impression that the path continues straight across the brook, as the bridge is virtually invisible; as is the path to it. (The bridge is marked by the blue arrow, in case you can’t spot it!)
The effect may be temporary however, as the trees to the left and right which restrict the width of the ride at this point are due to be removed in the next few weeks, making the whole area much more open.
As a result of the significant clearance work carried out by contractors late in 2011, many vistas in the Wood have changed. Details can be found here. Although it may look rather like a waste land at present, it will mellow with regeneration as have previous areas dealt with in earlier years.
The most obvious change is on the right of the drive when entering the wood where 2 hectares of rhododendron has been cleared. Here is a view looking from the start of the Yellow Trail towards the entrance drive:-
The area between the Yellow Trail to the west of the picnic area and the Blue Trail ride has been opened up to recreate the original route of this north-south ride and the dangerous beech tree has been made safe:-
Further to the west, a new coppiced glade has been created between the two tributaries of Rowbourne Brook:-
At the ‘Six-Ways’ junction, the ride going north to Brook Glade, which was only partially widened during previous work, has now been widened at its north end:-
The same ride, going south from Six-Ways down to Grimes Brook has been widened and the area to the east made into an open glade:-