At 11pm on Friday night, we left the European Union. The next morning, we looked towards France and it was nowhere to be seen. We appeared to be in splendid isolation and, by the time of writing this post on late Sunday afternoon, Europe has yet to reappear.
Hopefully it is still there though and will show itself again soon. I really like France.
We have spent some mornings working in the wood recently and have realised that the coppicing project has been really rather revolutionised now that we have this lightweight battery-powered chain saw. A few proper trees have even been taken down to let even more sunlight hit the woodland floor in the coppicing area.
This has created some lovely wood that we can use for wildlife habitat back in the meadows:
In February 2017, we bought some logs from a tree surgeon and made a Beetle habitat, whose larvae live in rotting wood under the ground. We dug the logs in deep:
Now, three years later, it looks like this:
Whilst we have no way of telling if the wood below ground is making itself useful to Beetle larvae, the bit above ground looks like great habitat these days. In fact, as we stood and looked at it, a little Wren was poking amongst the trunks.
We have decided to dig another of these now, this time using supplies from our own woodland.
Last winter we built a log shack down by the wild pond. Our motivation for this was to have a roof that could be fitted with a gutter and downpipe that fed into the pond, to increase its catchment area.
Since the catchment area of the pond could still do with being larger, I hope that we will also find time to build another of these this year. The stack of wood underneath will be providing great shelter for all manner of things as it gently rots down, not least the amphibians from the pond.
In the last post, we had had a bit of a brainwave to build a scarecrow to put down by the pond as a Heron deterrent. I brought some likely pieces of timber back from the wood to use as his skeleton:
We put flesh on his bones with the wool insulation from Gousto deliveries and went to charity shops in Deal to buy him some clothes – including a child’s knitted hat with a face on it which we put over an old dog ball as a head.
I am really hopeful that this is going to work, but only time will tell. He has now been guarding the pond for nearly a week and there has been no sign of the Heron on the cameras.
Moving back to the wood, we are getting some nice photos of the Tawny hunting for worms:
Most of the newly-acquired wood is so densely planted that there is no understorey of plants on the ground. However, the small area below is a bit more open and has some Bramble growing. As we walked through it, we put up four Woodcock – they clearly like the protection that the Bramble provides. We will leave this area alone now for the rest of the winter until the Woodcock have gone.
There are a lot of Pheasants in the wood. Before the woodland changed hands, there used to be a big winter shoot here and I presume that game birds were released into the countryside for these purposes and that these birds are connected with that.
There are two males:
One of these looks decidedly like a glorious patchwork quilt:
It seems it is not too early for them to be displaying to females:
I think the Kestrel box in the wood must be occupied. There is scratching in the front board and some sticks are protruding:
We will tie a trail camera onto a pole and see if something can be seen going in or out. Although my bet is that it is a Squirrel and I am not getting excited.
It has been sunny and almost warm in the meadows this weekend:
We walked around and spotted many cheering signs of spring:
Yesterday lunchtime, a male Sparrowhawk came in for a bath:
Then, 45 minutes later, his much larger and heftier wife also came in:
I probably don’t strictly need to include this photo of a Fox at the Badger sett, but I like it. Like domestic dogs, male Foxes cock their legs.
The hedgerow project has now officially been completed, since we have decided not to plant Oak standards along its length as we had originally been planning:
We are going to need to keep it watered during this coming first summer and probably the second one as well while the roots properly develop – and there are 600 new plants there. We have taken delivery of a trickle feed hose system:
The idea is that the water slowly oozes out through the fabric of the hose. It is, however, only 30m long and we have 85m of new hedgerow and so it will have to be moved around to different sections of the hedge. I expect that it is all going to be a bit of a struggle as usual.
The final photo today is an astronomical one. On Monday and Tuesday this week there was a thin crescent moon in conjunction with Venus, the brightest planet. My photography skills were not up to capturing how incredibly beautiful this was in the clear night sky, but the photo below does give some indication.