Inspired by Ian Rotherham’s talk on Ancient Woodlands (see next post) we have been measuring some of the village’s oldest trees. These will go into a national database at www.ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk/project/hunt. The village hosts many large and ancient trees, mainly Oak and Ash.
This veteran Ash near the green bridge down at the river has a circumference of 4.63m at shoulder height
Measuring the circumference of a massive Oak along the boundary of Ox Close wood. It measured 4.27m.
At our AGM in May, the Trust commenced its 25 Years Anniversary. Professor Ian Rotherham gave a talk on Ancient Woodlands to which the village History Group were invited… our first combined event.
The AGM in May, 2017 started our 25 Year’s Anniversary.
During the afternoon before the AGM, members of the Trust and the History Group accompanied Ian through Ox Close wood where given an enlightening aspect of the history of the wood. The rainy conditions did not dampen anyone’s enthusiasm!
Looking at Ox Close Wood with a different perspective
During March, the bridleway down to the river was re-surfaced. The spoil that this work generated has been tipped to the sides of the bridleway and as a consequence has covered locally uncommon species of wild flowers. The Trust met up with the Footpath Officer (Groundwork) and the Parish Council to discuss this and other damage that was caused.
Spoil covering where Black Horehound grows which, locally, is very uncommon
Spoil at the side of the re-surfaced bridleway
The marsh in East Keswick is grazed again for the first time in at least twenty five years. Trust volunteers completed fencing the marsh during March and the Dexter cattle which were introduced in May will be there for a short while to reduce the density of the dominant vegetation of Meadowsweet and Great Willow-herb. This will allow the more delicate wildflowers to re-establish themselves. The Marsh was last grazed before the houses of Keswick Grange and Church Drive were built.
Dexters grazing in the Marsh
On Monday May 8th the cubs took their 15 bird boxes to Ox Close Wood. They enjoyed the evening as they climbed short ladders to screw their boxes to well distributed trees.
The cubs put up nest boxes in Ox Close Wood
During March, a group of Trust volunteers visited some Duke of Burgundy butterfly sites to do a bit of habitat maintenance. The food plants of this butterfly are Primroses and Cowslips. Scrub was cleared to allow light to penetrate to the ground to allow these plants, primroses in particular, to thrive.
Habitat management for the Duke of Burgundy butterfly
Following this work members, along with other conservationists, returned in May to see the fruits of their labours and were rewarded with sightings of twenty adult Duke of Burgundy butterflies. Other butterflies seen were five Dingy Skippers, a Small Copper and a Red Admiral.
Robert Parkes organised a site visit to see the Duke of Burgundy Butterfly
One the 3rd May we had our annual bluebell walk in Ox Close Wood. There’s always a bit of guesswork in planning the walk six months ahead in the hope that the flowers will be at their best. This year we got it spot on and the flowers were glorious. On average, during the 25 years of the Trust’s existence, this event has moved forward by two weeks!
Four or five years of cutting the bracken here has reduced its vigour allowing the bluebells to put on a fine display
The path at the eastern end of the wood
Work has started on the construction of a log store in Elliker Wood. We plan to move most of the log piles (others are habitat piles) from Elliker Wood and some from Ox Close so that the logs can season for a couple of years under cover before they are used. We intend to start selling logs to the community in the autumn of 2017.
Constructing the log store
This Autumn, three Dexter calves have done an excellent job in eating most of the coarse grasses in Elliker Field. this should, hopefully, have the desired effect of allowing the smaller delicate Spring flowers to flourish next year. Only time will tell…..
Additional volunteer work this winter will include reducing the scrub and bramble cover.
Dexter calves in Elliker Field
Students from Bardsey School enjoyed enormously their day on the 12th October pond dipping in East Keswick Marsh. After the event, they all wrote letters of thanks which included excellent sketches of many of the creatures they found. Here a re a couple of the letters… there’s not enough room to put them all.