Sadly, We’re Out.

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.

IMG_8107

Hopefully it is still there though and will show itself again soon. I really like France.

IMG_8033 2

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.

IMG_8059 2

This has created some lovely wood that we can use for wildlife habitat back in the meadows:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Digging the hole, using visiting son labour.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Wedging the logs in

Now, three years later, it looks like this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_0532

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Mackenzie on guard duty at the wild pond

Moving back to the wood, we are getting some nice photos of the Tawny hunting for worms:

Trail camera

Trail camera

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The section of the wood from which we disturbed four Woodcock

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:

Trail camera

One of these looks decidedly like a glorious patchwork quilt:

Trail camera

It seems it is not too early for them to be displaying to females:

Trail camera

I think the Kestrel box in the wood must be occupied. There is scratching in the front board and some sticks are protruding:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We walked around and spotted many cheering signs of spring:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sweet Violets amongst the fallen apples in the orchard
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Lots of Dandelions coming into flower. I was reading today about what an important source of nectar Dandelions are for early-flying insects.
IMG_8120
Flower buds on the verge of bursting forth on Blackthorn. The flowers come out before the leaves on Blackthorn. Hawthorn, however, gets its leaves before it flowers.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Yes! There was even a Blackthorn flower already open.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Old Man’s Beard on its way into leaf.

Yesterday lunchtime, a male Sparrowhawk came in for a bath:

Version 2
Chestnut cheeks and sides and a slate-grey back

Then, 45 minutes later, his much larger and heftier wife also came in:

Trail camera
Larger, with a brown back and no chestnut cheek. She also has an eye stripe and looks pretty scary.

Trail camera

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.

Trail camera

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

IMG_8064 2
A sliver of moon with Venus, top right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Sadly, We’re Out.

Leave a Reply to Ellie Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s