January tasks ahead

We’ve just had the hedge cut, at the correct time of year, after most of the seeds and berries have been eaten by the birds. Not in Autumn when some hedges are flailed, removing most winter stores.

Just about to start the coppicing with our friend Terry, an expert in the craft.

We’ve had three buzzards wheeling and calling above us, but here’s one having a rest. For the first time ever we’ve had a house sparrow on the ground underneath the bird feeder.

Resting buzzard

Helping our Sequoia – we hope

Our Sequoia has been showing signs of distress with lower branches on one side dying back. After advice from an arboriculturist we have had the hard driveway replaced with some Cellweb root protection – we hope it works.

Big wasps, and bees in the wrong home

We have, which seems very late in the season, some large wasps building an unusual nest underneath a bird box on the house.  Not sure which wasps, but could be Median or Tree wasps. Thanks to Buglife we now know they are European Hornets, which is good!

We put up a barn owl box last year, but it’s now become a beehive for wild bees. Question – do we remove it in case owls would like to use it, collect the honey or leave it be? The entrance has been filled with wax.

Disturbing wasps

While moving some logs ready for the autumn & winter fires (already!) I found myself sharing space with wasps which have built a nest in a hole in the ground which may have been excavated by rabbits. I’m always impressed by the wood mâché .


Preparing for winter

Today I spent a couple of hours chopping logs for the wood-burner. It’s been far to hot to do it before, the weather change has prompted me into action. It’s mainly wood from a wind-blown ash tree. Still twice as much to do but there’s a couple of months worth here (1.5m by 1.5m) and there will be a lot spare.

P1080087 crop

Dryad’s Saddle – edible

An ash has a “great” outcrop of Dryad’s Saddle or Pheasant Back mushroom.

Not sure it’s a good sign for the Ash it’s growing on – however it will probably die soon anyway. See previous post.

Here’s an article on cooking it.  http://foragerchef.com/dryad-saddle-ramen/

Snakes alive! (no, dead) & dying Ash

On the lawn yesterday there was a half eaten grass snake. A shame but it must have been too slow to get away.

The bottom picture shows the dire effects of Ash die-back (Chalara fraxinea), even on mature trees. We have a few ash which are hundreds of years old – I hope those survive. The copse has many ash trees – it will be devastating to lose most of them.



Spring is springing and squelching

Spring flowers are coming out in profusions. Brimstones are flying. Our primrose / cowslip natural hybrid is out, wood anemones, fritillaries, primroses, lady’s smock …. It all looks good, but the ground is wetter than it’s even been.

Our two plum trees are diseased which is worrying – there seems to be no treatment available.

The fallen tree is now all chainsawed.


Frog spawn – missed!

The frogs have been doing their work, with a large amount in the pond. Good, bearing in mind the disease threats to frogs.


However one must have been “caught short” because there were patches of spawn on the grass.

Despite the cold weather, or perhaps because of a compressed season, flowers seem to just about to come out all at once; primroses, wood anemones, cowslips, ladies smock, fritillaries.


Storm damage

I thought we had got away without any significant damage, however the chain saw will need to be in action again, when it’s back from repair.  One ash tree ripped apart, and a sallow leaning. No doubt the sallow will regrow if I coppice it. The ash may regrow if I coppice that as well because the roots haven’t moved.

Been out coppicing hazel & maple today in the rain because the bluebells seem to be sprouting very early.