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June ~ by Dick



Just back from a great day out at the Royal Cornwall Show. Caught up with all the usual suspects in the forestry & woodworking area and said hello to several stall-holders who I recognised from events which woodlands.co.uk attend. Spent a lot of time looking at tractors old and new and talking to the Golden Guernsey goats, although it was a bit of a one-sided conversation. The highlight of the day though was discovering the Manic Organic stall. I haven’t seen these good folk since the demise of Woodfair Southwest, which was usually held at Roadford Lake. Their Bombay potatoes are just the best thing ever.

Weather words:

There is a country saying, regarding the emergence of leaves on the trees, which is meant to give an indication of what kind of summer we can expect. It goes “oak before ash and we’ll get a splash. Ash before oak and we’ll get a soak”. Well around here, the two species came into leaf simultaneously this year. The saying doesn’t cater for this event and I don’t think the weather is too sure either. For several days the skies have been heavy and grey, looking like it could rain at any minute, but somehow never quite managing it.

Which elm:

While I was cutting the rides and tracks at Brockscombe Wood  I stopped for a brief chat over the gate with Vernon, the neighbouring farmer. We were discussing the relative merits of our respective grass cutting equipment, when we noticed a tree in the hedgerow along the west side of the wood – previously unseen, hidden among the sycamore and ash. From the characteristic shoulder at the base of the leaves I was pretty sure it was some sort of elm, but without my tree id book and specs, I couldn’t say what type.  Having looked more closely now, it would appear to be a Cornish elm. There are others along the same stretch of hedgerow too.

The eagle has landed:

Earlier today I was walking the dogs round the lakes which I look after for a local farmer. I got into conversation with a visitor who was enjoying a spot of fishing. He was enthusing about all the wildlife he had seen during the day and was listing the various species of birds he’d observed.  All was well until he mentioned the eagles. I tactfully pointed out that they were most likely buzzards, but he was absolutely insistent that they were eagles – got quite stroppy in fact.

On the bench

Whilst strimming the area around the bench which I put in at Redstone Wood  I noticed loads of snail shell fragments on the bench. Song thrushes must be using it as a hard surface on which to bash the shells in order to get at the juicy bits inside. Glad it is appreciated.

Get a grip

As I type these notes, I have just witnessed an entertaining episode with a recently fledged woodpecker chick practising its pecking skills on a telegraph pole just outside the window. The trouble is, it doesn’t seem able to do two things at once, so when it pecks it forgets to hang on as well – resulting in a spectacular tumble into the rambling rose which grows part way up the pole. After a lot of squeaking and bush shaking, it re-appeared and made its way warily back up the pole – where both parents were waiting with consolatory titbits in their beaks.

Rant of the month:

It’s around this time of year that we start to feel the full effects of a particular invasive alien species. I’m not talking about giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed, mink or signal crayfish, I am talking about holidaymakers. Don’t get me wrong, holidaymakers are absolutely vital to the economy of the area and most of us fortunate enough to live in this fantastic part of the country are only too pleased to share it with our visitors. But, there is one particular sub-species, originating largely but not exclusively from the West Midlands, who seem to think that any roadside verge or gateway large enough to accommodate their vehicle is fair game for a picnic site. Now, I’d be the first to admit that I am not the best when it comes to manoeuvring my Landrover and trailer in and out of tight spaces. So, anyone thinking of stopping off for a cuppa in the entrance to any of my woods – you have been warned!

Posted in: Cornwall and West Devon ~ On: 3 July, 2011

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