The March work party was quite different to others. Storm Arwen had brough down an oak right across the public footpath into an adjacent field. Fortunately the crown had broken its fall so the fence was more or less unscathed apart from a few staples being required. Bob James brought his chain saws, and before long the tree was cut up into smaller pieces – some to sell for firewood and two lengths to cleave into fence posts at a later date. There was a record number of 13 volunteers on this occasion – including two youngsters and their parents (all the way from Madagascar!) – an ideal number for a chain gang to pass the smaller branches up into the wood where they were used to create a dead-hedge as shelter for wildlife. The photo of the cross section of the fallen trunk is interesting. Although probably no older than eighty or ninety years, a small patch of rot can be seen in the centre. We’ve noticed this in other trees of that age, which rather supports the view that the density of the trunks in the wood is stressing the trees as they compete for moisture, nutrients and light. This is what can happen when woods are left unmanaged.
Meanwhile, Simon Jameson was experimenting with deer prevention measures. Although not as effective as fencing, he’d heard that taping off a small area might deter deer from entering and grazing. We will watch this space with interest! If it works, and the ground flora regenerates, it might prove useful as a temporary measure when coppicing hazel.
Once all that was over and tea and cake had been taken, everyone walked back past the daffodil-lined footpath. We really must find a botanist to tell us if they are truly wild daffs or a small garden variety. Many thanks to everyone who took part. Our final work party of the season will be on Sunday 24th April – once again gather at the car park at 10.00 to walk across.