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Big Garden Birdwatch 2019

Big Garden Birdwatch 2019

by Chris ~ 25 January, 2019 ~ comments welcome

It's that time of year - time for the Big Garden Birdwatch.  It runs from Saturday to Monday - 26th to 28th January.

People are being asked watch out for blackbirds, blue tits, chaffinches,  coal tits, collared doves etc.   There are details available at the RSPB website .  However, you are also asked to keep an eye out for other wildlife, for example : foxes, squirrels, frogs, toads.

It is hoped that results, when collated and analysed,  might offer some insights into the effects of the "Beast from the East" or the heatwave of 2018. Read more...

Help - they've felled my wood

Help – they’ve felled my wood

by Angus ~ 24 January, 2019 ~ 12 comments

Arriving at our woodland after an absence of some time I was devastated to find that a whole section of it had been felled.  I hadn't given permission and it’s not what I wanted at all.  Hundred-year-old oaks and big ash trees had gone.  Oh, and there were the stumps of those beautiful beech trees which I’d loved.  To tell the truth I was quite emotional.  I cried, and then I was angry.  Then I was frustrated, knowing that whatever the explanation it wouldn’t bring back the trees.  Even if I replanted them - which of course I would - the new trees wouldn’t reach maturity in my lifetime.

The explanation turned out to be as prosaic as it was disappointing Read more...

A northern forest

A northern forest

by Angus ~ 18 January, 2019 ~ comments welcome

There is a plan to create a massive northern forest in the UK.  There is a logic behind this in that the UK has only some 13% woodland / forest cover.  This is low as compared to the european average.   More trees will result in more carbon dioxide being absorbed from the atmosphere, helping with global warming, and also helping the Government meet its 2050 carbon emissions targets.  The trees will also hopefully enhance the environment, providing habitats and niches for many plants and animals; including us, offering places to walk and unwind.

The plan is to dramatically increase the woodlands and tree cover along the M62 corridor Read more...

Monthly Mushroom: Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)

Monthly Mushroom: Hairy Curtain Crust (Stereum hirsutum)

by Jasper ~ 10 January, 2019 ~ 2 comments


We are well past peak mushroom season now, so you can expect some degree of slippage between the various specimens featured in these Monthly Mushroom posts and what can still be found out there in the wild in the month they are posted. Not quite yet, however. Due to a rather mild winter so far, touch wood, there is currently still plenty of interest popping up on lawns, pastures, tree stumps and amongst the leaf litter. 

In any case, there is a whole swathe of fungi that should be coming into their own at the moment if you care to look out for them – although admittedly precious few willingly choose to do so. These are the crust fungi, sometimes known as patch fungi. Instead of the discrete mushroom-like reproductive bodies of our more familiar fungal finds, with their caps, stems and gills, these types manifest themselves on tree trunks, both dead and alive, or on fallen branches, as expanding leathery patches, gelatinous swellings or peeling skin-like layers of varying hues.  Read more...

‘Waste’ Materials to landfill, coffee grounds.

‘Waste’ Materials to landfill, coffee grounds.

by Lewis ~ 5 January, 2019 ~ one comment

A recent woodlands blog discussed the millions of Christmas trees that end up as landfill material.  This is also true for a material that is generated in cafes and restaurants across the U.K - the ‘waste material’ is coffee grounds. Coffee is the second largest traded commodity after petroleum.  One estimate suggests that six million tonnes of spent coffee grounds go to landfill every year.  Landfill sites account for a fifth of the UK’s methane emissions; methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas associated with global warming & climate change. Read more...

discarded Christmas tree

Recycling Christmas Trees 

by Chris ~ 1 January, 2019 ~ 2 comments

Each year, some eight million ‘natural’ Christmas Trees [which may be Norway Spruce or Silver Fir or Nordmann Fir  or Scots Pine] are bought in the U.K; it is estimated that several million of these end up in landfill.   When a tree ends up in landfill, it costs the local authority as they have to pay for every tonne of waste sent to landfill. Whilst consigning them to landfill is better than them being discarded in local streets or left on pavements etc, the needles and wood of the trees take time to decompose [think of the soft cushion underfoot when walking through a pine woodland]. Also, the process of decomposition releases significant quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Sometimes the councils have schemes so that the trees are shredded / chipped to create material that can be used as mulch / weed suppressant / soil conditioner. Read more...

Shellfish, fires and forest productivity

Shellfish, fires and forest productivity

by Chris ~ 30 December, 2018 ~ comments welcome

The loss of woodlands and forest across the world is but another example of human interference with natural ecosystems.    Tropical forests are raided for their exotic hardwoods or subject to wholesale clearing for ‘cash crops’ e.g. oil palms.  However, it would seem that this destruction is nothing new.    

Professors Kaplan and Kolen have analysed soils for ash and suggested that the early (hunter-gatherer) settlers in Europe lit fires to clear the ‘wildwood’ so that grassland or more open woodland / steppe-like areas would develop.    Read more...

Where's your Christmas pudding from ?

Where’s your Christmas pudding from ?

by Lewis ~ 22 December, 2018 ~ one comment

As the only one in the family who likes Christmas Pudding, I  usually treat myself to a commercially produced pudding.  Knowing that it is stuffed full of calories, I looked at the label to see if I could convince myself of its worthiness in terms of fibre or vitamins or  …….   The list of ingredients was significant with many items from different parts of the world.  As well as disregarding the calories, I also decided not to think about the air miles involved.

My Christmas pudding contains the following ‘plant-based’ ingredients : Read more...

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