Frost covered the hollow of the Hollow Walk, and stamped out the pattern of fallen leaves among the trees. The noise of an explosion of jackdaws from the Old Hall faded, and gave way to the call of a red kite.
The kite circled low, its colours embellished in the winter light. The bird settled for a moment in the high top of a Wellingtonia , then again drifted low and slowly above us - quite possibly, like a robin, attracted by human activity, hoping to spot some easy pickings. Instead, what it saw, were three old men in the woods chopping down trees: old, but not carrion yet.
|Cutting down silver birch|
After a week elsewhere, we were back in Hollow Walk Dene seeking out Ranger Liam’s orange-spotted birch trees to cut down, to let in more light and reduce competition. Remaining birch will have opportunity to grow faster and stronger; ground vegetation should thrive and, perhaps, become more diverse. And the Wednesday Conservation Team will become fitter and stronger - though, at the time, it didn’t feel like that; knackered, is what it felt like.
This young stretch of woodland is faring well. Here and there we tugged out the odd western hemlock sapling – all that remains of a commercially planted and aggressively invasive species. From among patches of heather we cut back birch, broom and bramble. Better for the heather, and better for the rarely seen stag’s horn club moss that grows amidst it in places.
|Plan of Nature Playscape|
Last week the orange spots marked the dispatch of some large holly from the Woodland Playscape area near The Stables. This time the intention was not so much to make room for ground flora, but to make way for children attracted to the newly constructed willow tunnel. As it turned out, the tunnel was lucky to survive the crude felling technique of over-eager, macho volunteers. The day was saved, though, by the skills of Conservation Volunteer Mary, as several males of the species looked on: perhaps not diminutive in stature, but much diminished in reputation.
|The holly dead hedge takes shape|
|The men look on whilst Mary works!|