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Monday 30 January 2012

Path maintenance in New England Wood, Cuckfield

The footfall through New England Wood is reducing the paths to ever wider muddy expanses.  Peter Lyle, above, is new to the work parties and has already made his mark by instigating a new approach to path maintenance.
 As Peter observed, "The paths had become a muddy depression, lower than the surrounding woodland." As a consequence they become waterlogged and hence, muddy.  Peter's solution is to raise the path level and lead the water away by digging ditches next to the path.
 The final refining touches to the path were provided by Carol and Liz, above.  Liz is not to be messed with when she has a sledge hammer in her hands!  Here she is driving retaining stakes into the ground to fix the wooden poles, which retain wood chippings.  She and Carol wheelbarrowed the chippings from another part of the wood.
 There is a potential triple benefit to this work;
  • The raised path is more pleasant to walk on;
  • It will hopefully discourage people from widening paths and destroying the very plants and flowers that we come to enjoy;
  • The ditches may, in themselves, create a new habitat and increase the variety of plants and animals in the wood.
Meanwhile, if you walk in this, or any other wood, please consider to splosh and squelch your way through the mud on the path centre, rather than walk on an ever-widening path edge -- especially at this time of year when the Spring flowers would be damaged as a result.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Woodpecker-proof birdbox?

Last year a woodpecker attacked a blue tit's nest in the bird box below.  Click here to see the blog entry of the attacker in action.

This year I have covered the damaged box with old roof tiles, held on with a length of wire.
Not a pretty job, but it remains to be seen whether a blue tit nests here again and if it is safe from woodpecker attack.
Update 23 May 2013.  A pair of bluetits have been flying in and out regularly now for a couple of weeks.  So I guess there are a lot of baby birds in there now.  Success.

Monday 23 January 2012

Hundreds of Wigeon at Pulborough Brooks yesterday.

There were hundreds of Widgeon feeding on the grassland and in the shallows.
In the UK, their population in winter increases a thousand fold to more than 400,000.  Almost half the European population come to the UK in winter.

Saturday 21 January 2012

The resident fox is actively enlarging its den.

The resident fox has a den under a large heap of branches and garden waste that is piled up to decompose naturally.  The heap has been there for decades and I'm happy to have the fox dig out the beautiful looking compost from the bottom of the heap.  I'll collect it for seed compost.
I suppose that the vixen is enlarging the home for the cubs to follow. 

Can anyone identify this duck?

Seen at Widewater lagoon nature reserve, Shoreham Beach yesterday; what is it?  I can find nothing like it in my bird books.  Might it be a hybrid with some Egyptian goose in there somewhere?  I have no idea.  What do you think?

The RSPB people at Pulborough Brooks, had a look  on 22nd January and say that it is a hybrid Mallard.

Friday 20 January 2012

Black-headed gulls on Widewater lagoon, Shoreham Beach

There was quite a flock of small gulls on Widewater lagoon today.
They appear to be Black-headed gulls in their winter plumage.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Hazel in flower in mid-January

This female hazel flower in Cuckfield is open in mid January, whilst the majority of male catkins have yet to open and disperse their pollen.  Will there be nuts in autumn?  We will see.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Removing Sycamore trees to create an Ash grove in New England Wood, Cuckfield

For the past few weeks, the volunteers in New England Wood have been felling sycamore trees to create space for more valuable ash trees to thrive.  This Ash Grove looks good now and will just get better and better in the years to come.
The felled timber is sorted into future climbing bean poles.
Larger fellings are sawed into lengths for stacking and use as firewood in a year's time.
Above and below is how the glade appears on 29th August 2013.  There are plenty more sycamore trees to remove should that be decided.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Bluebells pushing up in the woods in January

The mild weather at c. 10C for days on end has brought bulbs up early. 
These pictures are from New England Wood, Cuckfield.

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