For six or seven years it seemed that Wednesdays – the regular working day for the Gibside Volunteer Conservation Team – could be relied on for fine weather, whatever the season. Something has gone wrong with this trusted weather forecasting system of late; today was yet another cold, grey day.
|Snipes Dene on a grey winter's day|
From across the valley, two roe deer stopped grazing, eyed us up and wandered off. We were back in Snipes Dene pulling up western hemlock saplings in an area where we have been monitoring regeneration following the felling of non-native conifers a few years back. Removing this successful, invasive species gives nature a helping hand, but it is hard work that will have to be repeated many times if it is not to carpet the area again and push out native plants and animals.
|Know thine enemy - Western Hemlock saplings|
As we bent to our work, we had the frequent and welcome distraction of flocks of goldfinch and siskin visiting the few spindly birch that remain isolated in the dene. This is a stark environment in winter, but hard fern and an assortment of attractive mosses are doing well, and rosettes of foxglove leaves promise at least some colour in the summer.
|New Growth - Foxglove Leaves Rosette|