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
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
On Wednesday 13th July, the Trust is hosting a workshop for Flora Locale with the purpose of “Managing woodlands to improve biodiversity and sustainability”.
If you wish to attend, it is essential to book. For further information go to the Training section of www.floralocale.org alternatively email at email@example.com.
Meet initially at Greenfields.
The rain over Christmas Day and Boxing Day caused unprecedented flooding. Locally, the river rose to its highest level in living memory. Last year’s repairs to the bridge appear to have survived although the toilet near the kiln area got flushed away!
The river over the bridge! Shouldn’t that be the bridge over the river?
View looking through Ox Close Wood looking down from the kiln area towards the river.
On Monday 18th May we surveyed the bats in Ox Close Wood. Our bat expert, who is a consultant ecologist, brought a number of bat detectors so that we could all have a go at listening to and deciphering the calls that we heard. Four bat species were identified during the evening; Daubenton’s, Noctule and Common and Soprano Pipistrelle. The river was a particularly rewarding area where nearly all the bats were seen and heard. A couple of the bat detectors could record calls and further species may be identified when these recordings are analysed over the next few days.
A few of the Trust members who attended the bat evening…. surrounded by Daubenton’s bats!
Two more bat evenings are planned for the 17th and 24th June when different areas of the parish will be surveyed. If you would like to come; meet at the church on Moor Lane at 9.30pm. or contact 01937 574140.
To further increase the biodiversity of uncommon wild flowers in Ox Close wood, we have again been plug planting in the grazing pasture. The plants were grown in the Trusts own wild flower nursery from seed that was collected locally.
About half of the wood was clear felled in 1992 by its previous owners. Until then, this area of the wood consisted of non-native conifers that shaded the ground so much that very little was left of whatever seed bank might have been present. Consequently the area that is now kept open by conservation grazing has a poor range of wild flowers which we are hoping to rectify.
This time, to deter the deer from jumping over wire fences, the posts have been angled inwards and the tops of the mesh netting has been laced with string.
Species that have been planted include Betony, Rock Rose, Aquilegia, and Ladies Bedstraw.
Fenced off area with plug plants of wild flowers
Feeding tunnels under the bark of a dead Elm made by the Elm Bark Scolytus beetle
Half of Ox Close Wood was clear felled prior to its acquisition by the Trust in 1992.
Much of the natural regeneration has been by Elm trees. These trees are now of an age where they are becoming susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease which is a fungus carried by the Elm Bark Beetle. Evidence of the beetle, in the form of their larval feeding galleries, can readily be found under the bark of dead Elms.
A walk round the wood now reveals that many of the Elm trees are beginning to show signs of the disease in the form of dead and dying leaves and branches. In order to combat the disease, this winter, in the South West corner of the wood, the Trust has been coppicing many of the elms including some that seem healthy to prevent the disease from killing the trees. Trees alongside footpaths will also be felled to remove any danger from falling branches. Coppicing in this way extends the life of trees and further benefits wild flowers and insects by opening up the canopy allowing sunlight to reach the ground.
The area will be surrounded by a tall deer fence to prevent deer from eating the tasty young shoots that will grow from the coppiced stools.
Part of the coppiced area in Ox Close with posts for the deer fence being knocked into the ground.
The Elm is important locally as it is the foodplant of the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly which is an uncommon butterfly ranked 24th most widespread of Yorkshire’s 36 breeding butterfly species. Ox Close has a healthy population of this butterfly which is seen flying around the tops of the trees during July.
A series of four marathon Friday work days saw the completion of the new hedge along the southern and western boundaries of Ox Close Wood.
Funded by Green Leeds, The Trust has completed planting over 3,000 saplings to create this new mixed species hedgerow. It is intended to provide protection from spray drift from the intensively farmed fields that surround the wood and to create a new wildlife corridor and important habitat.
The completed southern boundary of Ox Close Wood…. over 3000 plants
The Trust has been successful in obtaining a grant to plant a mixed native species hedgerow along the southern boundary of Ox Close Wood. This will help prevent spray drift and encroachment into the wood from the adjoining intensive farming. Work will commence in the winter.
Please come along and join the planting work parties. Phone 01937 574140