The January Lull

Things are very quiet out there. Badgers go into torpor in the deep winter, still appearing every night but they are active for much shorter times. Any young badgers this year will be born in a couple of weeks in late January and will then stay warm underground until mid April.

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The mangey Fox is still with us but we are yet to put the honey sandwiches laced with medicine out at such a time that he gets some.

Here he is arriving at the peanuts earlier than expected and before we had put the sandwiches out:

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Then, when we did put them out that evening, here is a perfectly healthy Fox with a mouth stuffed full of medicated honey sandwiches. They won’t do it any harm, but they were intended elsewhere:

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It’s frustrating. The medicine is very mild and needs to be taken every day for a minimum of three weeks to have an effect. Currently the chances of us managing that seem very slim, although we will keep trying.

Our Fox woes continue with one of our regular Foxes turning up with this injury last night. They live such precarious lives.

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Yesterday we did the winter pruning of the apple and pear trees in the orchard. The idea is to prune so that you could fly a pigeon through the heart of the tree if you wanted to. A goblet shape will allow good air circulation that will keep them healthier.

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Lots of lovely fruit wood has now been made available for dead hedging.

We noticed seed heads on the ground from Old Man’s Beard (wild clematis, Clematis vitalba).

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Old Man’s Beard is a chalk specialist and it scrambles all over the hedgerows here. As well as Ivy berries, it is another important mid to late winter food source for Goldfinch and Greenfinch and it is lovely to see evidence of it being used.

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The seed heads in the hedgerow

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We are trying to rapidly educate ourselves in the management of woods. But all the advice we have read for new owners is to do nothing other than observe and enjoy for the the first complete year. Well, we can do that!

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However, there were some things that we wanted to get up and running as soon as possible. One of these to get some nest boxes up. We now have put into place two Barn Owl boxes, a Tawny Owl box and six smaller bird boxes around the wood.

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The second Barn Owl box goes up in the Sycamore coppice.
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The Tawny box goes up in an Oak
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One of the smaller boxes.

We also wanted to introduce some freshwater quickly and easily so that we can then take our time to decide where to build a proper pond. This sturdy plastic bath looks a bit odd but it is a work-in-progress so suspend judgement until we have finished!

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We have also dug in this shallower painters tray with a sloping base and deeper section which we hope will be used by birds to drink and bathe:

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There was previously no water available in the wood or the surrounding area and so we are trying these cheap, cheerful and simple solutions as a starting point. In fact, the only other water we have found here is this pool in the centre of a coppice:

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Yesterday we cut our first coppice to provide some posts for dry hedging and were really surprised how much wood just a single coppice provided:

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That should certainly be enough for now.

I have moved some trail cameras across to the wood from the meadows. I trained one on this area of holey ground:

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And this is what we got (which probably surprises no one)

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It has been quite calm and reasonably mild recently but much colder weather is forecast shortly. It will be interesting to see what changes that brings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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