Nature and wildlife in abundance

The Spring season saw a wondrous amount of birdlife this year. It was joy to encounter the Kingfisher again, making her nest in the disused clay pit area. Some of my favourites have been the tree creepers nest in a hollow within one of the hornbeams, next door to a great tits nest, and in the kitchen hut we had a pair of robins who successfully raised three chicks. The woodpeckers also have had a good season this year, and its been a joy to be registering their flight paths and patterns throughout the site.

Our water fowl count has lifted again this year with increases in geese sightings, shelduck, a large flock of teal and the persistent herons who seem to have a territorial acquisition of the clay pit.

As some of you will know we sighted dormice last year within the site, and we are making conservational steps to increase habitats for them, with nest boxes and site location planting of food sources. Bats and other endangered species like moths, butterflies are all regulars, with species like soprano pipistrelle, noctule bat and brown long eared bat on site and in vicinity. We have been registering plant species connections with things like the orange-tipper butterfly and its relationship to egg laying on the delicate cuckoo flower, various peacocks, red admirals, brimstones and speckled wood in the area, plus marbled whites appearance in keeping with the common spotted orchids time on the land.

This year we also noticed blue damsel flies alighting a lot on nearby nettles and witnessing the various dragon flies in the area is such a joy to behold each season.

Within the waters once again the main lake has been inundated with frog and toad spawn all along the edges and within the stream areas, only this week we have been witnessing the ground moving as we walk as thousands of the little new toads and frogs make their way onto the land in search of spaces to grow and feed. The fish have also been very active with large amounts of jumping over the last month, our question why do they persist in that activity, what is it telling us and is it some form of communication or mating activity?

As well as all the invertebrates and mammal activity, our plants and trees are forever growing, dying and reseeding, we have seen the young trees in community orchard area begin to mature over the last couple of years, the newly planted nut orchard slowly developing and the existing woodland areas providing much habitat and cover for all. Our light selective felling policy is proving to be a good objective creating more sunlight to the forest floor, so increasing woodland plant species at lower levels, and with every storm that passes the odd hornbeam tree gives up its life and gives us firewood for all the camps and events for the next year. We have also slowly been managing new pathways into the overgrown clay pit area, creating new glades and again opening the floor to light where other dormant plant species are able to come back into life. This year I have registered new plants like wood ruff and seen an increase in dyers greenweed.

Our coppicing and pollarding sections are flourishing with growth and initial cuts are now ready for new sections to be harvested after a four year rotation period. Most of this will be processed into charcoal and then into Bio-Char products, some will go into barbeque charcoal and other woodland products.

As we move into summer, we are looking at optimising fruit production and harvesting of berries, over the next few years we aim to increase that tenfold with increased planting of different layers in both community orchard and nut plantation areas.

Lastly we are attempting to bring our conservation aims forward this autumn/winter and so if any willing and budding naturalists want to join our nature club, over the next year we will be attempting to document the amount of ecological indicators and life forms on our site and increase habitats with conservation for the future generations at its heart. Please contact Phil if you wish to join, this will be an ongoing club that helps support the nature and conservation aims of our Community Benefit Society. All ages welcome.