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The Great Storm of 1987 - 30 years on.

The Great Storm of 1987 – 30 years on.

by Lewis ~ 16 October, 2017 ~ comments welcome

It is now some 30 years since the “great storm’ which was (probably) the most ferocious weather event to arrive in the U.K in the last three hundred years.  Winds that reached 115 mph wreaked devastation across the southern parts of the country.  At the back of the weather front that brought this wind was a hook-shaped airstream - the “sting jet” which created particularly severe gusts of wind.

Eighteen people died; and the repair bill was probably in the region of two billion pounds.  Amid the chaos of destroyed homes, blocked roads and railway lines, loss of power and telecommunications, it was estimated that some fifteen million trees were uprooted - in woodlands, forests, arboreta, parks and city streets.

That October was wet so the roots of trees were sitting in sodden soil, and the leaves were still on the branches.  In consequence, when the gales / storm arrived the trees offered considerable resistance to the flow of  air so that they were literally torn from the ground.  It resulted in the loss of ancient (and modern) woodlands - and the damage to property and communications. Read more...

The 2017 Big Butterfly Count

The 2017 Big Butterfly Count

by Chris ~ 14 October, 2017 ~ comments welcome

The first six months of 2017 were noteworthy for above average temperatures. Then July and August were characterised by unsettled weather and above average rainfall - indeed, it has been one of the wettest summers for a number of years.

The effect of this weather was to reduce the number of butterflies seen during the Big Butterfly Count - which took place in late July and early August.  The ‘warmer’ early months of the year meant that the development of some butterfly species was accelerated so that their peak numbers occurred earlier than when the count took place.  Others were affected by the rather miserable ‘summer’ weather.  The count recorded the sightings of some 20 species of butterfly and moth. Read more...

Woodlands Awards 2017: a community of winners

Woodlands Awards 2017: a community of winners

by Antony Mason ~ 11 October, 2017 ~ comments welcome

I saw the list… So many prizes... A huge community.” So wrote a delighted winner of one of this year’s Woodlands Awards, after looking at the full list of winners published recently on the Woodlands.co.uk website.

This was the first year of the Woodlands.co.uk-sponsored Woodlands Awards. The awards were divided into fourteen categories, some aimed at woodland owners and enthusiasts, some at woodland professionals and enterprises. The intention was to cover as much of the full gamut of woodland activities as possible and to give recognition to all the good work that is being done – professionally or for pleasure – in the woodland sector. Read more...

feed the birds .......

feed the birds …….

by Lewis ~ 7 October, 2017 ~ comments welcome

At this time of year, berries and other fruits form a valuable part of the diet of many wild animals, but particularly birds (such as blackbirds, thrushes,  fieldfares and redwings) and small mammals.  They will feast on berries and fruits through the autumnal and winter months.

Many fruits of hedgerow and garden plants are berries.  Botanically speaking, a berry is a fruit formed from the ovary of a single flower and the outer layer of the ovary wall develops into an edible, fleshy portion (the pericarp). Berries are generally juicy, rounded, brightly coloured, they may be sweet or sour, and inside there may be many pips or seeds - they do not have a ‘stone’.  The tissues of the berry will be rich in sugars, starches, some protein and various minerals.  Read more...

"A Wood of one's own" by Ruth Pavey

“A Wood of one’s own” by Ruth Pavey

by Angus ~ 3 October, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Ruth has that rare combination of being both an active doer and an engaging storyteller: "A Wood of one's own" is about what the author has done with her four acres of land in Somerset, neglected orchard and woodland.  It's the story of how, over the last 18 years, the land has been brought under control with help from friends and relatives but mostly the result of her sheer persistence and patience.  The friends have not always "got it" about why she has taken it on and they ask questions like, "what's it all for?" or "when will the wood be finished?"  But within the book are dozens of answers to sth question of why take on ownership of a small piece of countryside - to improve the woodland, to learn its history, to grow apples, to meet people, have parties, and just to experience the earthy business of managing the land.  It's clear from this book that actual ownership has big advantages over just having a right to visit a woodland - as Pavey says: 'Unless you own the land you are not free to grow things where you like, to make mistakes, to "spuddle about".' Read more...

The Monthly Mushroom – The Shaggy Inkcap

The Monthly Mushroom – The Shaggy Inkcap

by Jasper ~ 1 October, 2017 ~ 2 comments

As any seasoned mycologist will tell you, there’s much more to mushroom hunting than mere foraging. The sheer beauty of their manifold shapes, colours and patterning makes many specimens ideal photographic subjects. Then there is the joy of learning how fungi are situated within a broader ecosystem, with different specimens associated with different plants, trees and microhabitats. There is also the satisfaction of positive identification and the excitement that you may have stumbled across a rare specimen in a place they’ve not been spotted before, and of being an active member of a community contributing to this still obscure knowledge base (if you wish to get more involved in this aspect, the British Mycological Society have both a website and a lively Facebook discussion group (where people post their pics). Read more...

Annual rings, drought and climate change.

Annual rings, drought and climate change.

by Chris ~ 28 September, 2017 ~ comments welcome

Research workers in the States and Germany have been investigating the effect of drought on the subsequent growth of various types of trees.  Because of climate change, droughts are expected to increase in frequency and severity.

The workers in the States found that trees took between two and four years to recover from drought and resume ‘normal’ growth.

The reduction in growth could be due to

Ideas for woodcraft from nomadic peoples.

Ideas for woodcraft from nomadic peoples.

by Angus ~ 20 September, 2017 ~ 2 comments

In Siberia, there are some indigenous peoples who continue to live as they have for hundreds or thousands of years.  One such is the Evenks, who are nomadic and live off reindeer (both domesticated and wild) and they build a teepee-shaped houses out of wood and cover it in skins.  When they move on they take the skins with them.  They also have other clever innovations with could provide inspiration for the British woodland owner, such as a “fridge” built high up so as to be out of reach of animals, and they have clever animal traps made with logs.  Some of these seem to be intended to crush the animal and others to trap it (images below).

One tradition they have is that instead of burning their dead or cremating them they leave them on high platforms so that the corpse can be eaten by birds.  This particular idea may be less useful to the British woodsman and might even be frowned upon, especially in the Home Counties.  Read more...

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