We’ve welcomed a total of 18 volunteers back at covid-secure volunteer days between July and December which is fantastic. We’ve done lots of scything and raking to keep the rides and glades in good condition for wildlife, given the bird boxes their annual clean, maintained paths and tidied around the buildings. We’ve had so many positive comments about how good it is to be back volunteering at the wood, with many people saying they feel relaxed and refreshed. As well as getting physically active and completing valuable conservation work, it’s great to be around like-minded people and have an element of normal life in these strange times. We look after the wood and the wood looks after us! We are planning to welcome new volunteers in early 2021.
Felling of branches and trees of trees at risk of failing (falling), and making safe those that come down naturally, is a regular element of woodland management work. It would be unnecessary and virtually impossible to survey and monitor every tree in our 70 acre wood; we focus on high human use areas and “targets”. “Targets” include people congregating (e.g. at the Campfire Circle), buildings and cars. In September, James Ockenden took down the dead Lime tree situated next to the Hideaway, plus 2 ash trees and an oak that were dying and at risk of falling on the Hideaway or paths around it. The trees have all been left as “habitat poles”, which no longer have the “sail effect” that branches and leaves give (making them more likely to be blown over), and are great habitat for lots of wildlife including birds, bats, fungi and insects.
Whilst moving firewood recently we found an adult grass snake skin and then a live juvenile grass snake found in log pile. Very exciting! We will now leave some of the log pile here as it is clearly important habitat now. Frogs of different sizes and colours are everywhere! They’re all the same species, common frog. They’re also grass snakes’ favourite food… This one was moved to safety and out of the path of a scythe. 2020 marks a move away from machinery and power tools as we use scythes instead to maintain our wildlife-rich rides and glades at Hazel Hill Wood.
by Charley Miller, Conservation and Education Coordinator.