I’ve commented before on my poor photography, so this time I am unashamedly plagiarising from Rosanna, who is taking on the ownership of Riverside Wood at Chelfham. Rosanna has had a motion triggered camera on site for a few weeks, and has taken some interesting nigh-time shots of a badger sett and also a visiting fox.
The track work at Chelfham is close to completion. Work has been timed carefully to minimise disruption to wildlife, to avoid dormouse hibernating and breeding, and badger breeding seasons. In effect, no young to disturb, and the adults can get out of the way. Dormice have been recorded in nearby woods, but not yet in our woods. I keep looking out for eaten hazelnuts; dormice chew a characteristic smooth hole in the nut, whereas mice and voles leave rough edges with tooth marks, and squirrels just crack them in half! Still best practice says do things at the right time, in case they are present. I hope and expect that they are. On the other hand we know we have badgers in the wood, and the neighbouring farmers seem quite happy about this, as they show no signs of TB.
While we are installing tracks to help with access and future management, new tracks also open up the woodland, and let more light in to some areas. Coppicing trees or shrubs next to the track also provides a more varied woodland structure, which improves the habitat for nesting birds and also butterflies, which like sunny rides and glades. Bats on the other hand like old hollow trees, or those covered with ivy, so if you own a woodland don’t be too tidy!
The pond built a few weeks ago is still a muddy pool; it will take much of next summer to naturally colonise with marginal plants and aquatic insects. Hopefully some more photos of that next year. We did come across a slow-worm during the pond digging, which was gently moved to the side. This is the second time I have seen slow-worms on site, so there is probably quite a big population.
The great thing about owning your own woodland is that you have time to get to know the wildlife, and see the changes over the years. At Treragin, I have now seen those changes over 23 years, and Rosanna is now four months into her adventure. It can be hard work, but incredibly rewarding, so perhaps it’s time stop reading this blog, and think about planning a woodland viewing near you?
Stephen (and Rosanna)