Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Pale Tussock Moth

Pale Tussock Moth Caterpillar

This brightly-coloured caterpillar was found today by one of our volunteers.  It's a Pale Tussock Moth caterpillar.  The moth is a much duller brown and pale-coloured. 
The caterpillar feeds on oaks and lime trees until October when it will spin its silk cocoon and overwinter as a pupa. 
A beautiful creature!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Repairing the riverside path

Last week we were working with a contractor to begin clearing the landslide that has closed the popular riverside walk for over a year. Gibside's built on a valley side which is doing its very best to fall into the river Derwent and this repair project is part of our on-going effort to keep the riverside walk open.

The project has taken so long to get to this stage as we have worked with engineers to make sure the area is safe and that we can repair the collapse without putting anyone at risk. In the next few weeks volunteers will work with walling contractors to re-build the wall and then repair the footpath. All being well we should have the route opened again by the end of October, which will let everyone once again enjoy the riverside walk.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Felling trees

A large oak tree near our visitor reception has been felled today.

The tree has been braced with cables in the past, and dead branches have been removed to try and prolong it’s life.  The tree was tested by the National Trust foresters from Cragside – they have equipment that can send sound waves though the tree trunk, and they can tell how solid the wood is from the speed at which the sound waves travel.  The test showed that the tree has less than 25% solid wood left in the trunk, so it is no longer safe to leave it standing in such a busy visitor area, next to the reception building and Chapel Cottage.

We are felling it now because it is past bird-nesting time, and before the wet and windy autumn and winter weather begins.  There are many holes and cracks in the tree, so we carried out a dawn bat survey this morning to make sure no bats went into the tree to roost.  The tree surgeons also double-checked and looked inside all the holes with an endoscope before work began.

Now the tree is felled, we will grind out the stump, and another English Oak will be planted in its place.
The rotten trunk and stump of the oak tree.

The felled tree near the Chapel.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Badgers in the woodland

We filmed this badger disappearing down into his sett using a motion sensor camera in the woodland.  You can look at more video footage of badgers and squirrels on our website wildlife pages at

There are badger setts all over Gibside.  We don't often get to see the badgers themselves, but we do see the signs they leave.  There are badger paths leading up to the fields where they go at night to search for worms and slugs.  There are also signs in the Walled Garden, when they break through the mesh on the gate to get to the wind-fall apples!

If you'd like to find out how to spot animal tracks and signs you can come along to our Winter Wildlife Tracking walk on Sunday 13th November, when our ranger Phil will show you what to look out for.