Thursday, 29 December 2011

Woodland Checks

This morning we were carrying out safety checks, making sure yesterday's strong winds hadn't blown any trees over, or left any branches hanging over paths.  During the rounds, John saw 14 roe deer, and I saw 12 red kites.

We had to close early yesterday because the gusts of wind reached 50 miles an hour, and it was forecasted that they would get even stronger.  It's not safe for visitors, volunteers and staff to be out in gusts that strong, because of the potential danger of falling trees and branches. 

I've also been over to West Wood at Ebchester, another one of our sites, to do the post-storm checks there.  It is a small site, but the woodland there has been described as one of the best semi-natural woodlands of the Derwent Valley.  The variety of rock and soil types in the land sloping down to the river means that a good diversity of plants can grow there, a diversity that is unusual in a woodland of this size.

I like walking through the woods at Ebchester - the winding path has views down to the river, where we saw a water vole last summer, and there are some fantastic old trees.  The path crosses over bridges across trickling streams and in some places it's like walking through a tunnel of holly.

Oak trees at Ebchester West Wood
The footpath follows the Derwent River
Although it's quite dull and raining today, the gorse flowers added a bright spot of colour to a wintery day.  Different species of gorse flower at different times of the year, so there is always a gorse in flower somewhere.

Like the old saying goes, 'kissing is out of season when the gorse is out of bloom'

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