Monthly Archives: October 2015

Forest furniture, artistic lily pads and life after a fire

orangedalekHello again everybody!

The last blog I did was about the Forest Litter Pick, so I’ll leave that in the past with this thought; now that I’ve found a mini orange Dalek, what else is out there*1?

So, what have we been up to recently? Well, we’ve been repairing what we refer to as Forest Furniture. This includes all the barriers around the Forest, putting in a few dragon’s teeth (a line of posts about 2-3ft high) and also putting in mounting blocks for horse riders at gates in and out of the grazing enclosure. Just for the record, that involved digging about twenty-eight 30cm3 holes in just over two days. As a result, I hope I don’t see a spade again for a long time! We replaced two of the car park sleeper bye-law signs and just before we replaced the one in Pines we saw this:

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You can describe it how you like but basically it’s a Common Lizard trying to hide in a hole that’s too small for it*2.

We also had another session in Ellison’s Pond pulling out the invasive Parrots Feather and Arrow Head. First thing we see when we get there? A Kingfisher! I think it’s got to know Ellison’s Pond as a good spot for picking off goldfish.

It’s probably worth saying at this point please do not feed the fish or put fish in those ponds! Goldfish are harmful to frog and newt spawn, as well as dragonfly eggs. The dragonflies of Ashdown Forest are one of the reasons it is Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). As far as the Kingfisher goes, there are more than enough fish in those ponds as it is to keep it going for a long time!

While I was in the top pond, I saw a funny mark on a lily pad and went to have a look.

The only reason I know what’s making these rings is because I saw it in progress, so here goes. You are looking at an old lily pad that has turned yellow and that has a few holes in it. A Silver Birch leaf’s stalk has got stuck in one of the holes and with the waves moving over the pond, the leaf is being pushed gently round in circles and is making rings in the sediment on the lily pad. Personally, I think it’s really cool! If you look even more closely, you can see the reflection of me holding my camera.

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Not far from Ellison’s Pond where one of this year’s forest fires took place. Burning is an effective management tool for heathland sites, but ONLY when carried out in a safe, controlled way and at the right time of year.

At the moment, the area looks like this.

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There are still plenty of singed plant skeletons out there and not much tall vegetation. There is also plenty of Purple Moor Grass and when it is fairly new growth animals like to graze it and that keeps the sward low and competition for heather down and that means that if you took a closer look you would see this:

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which is heather regrowth, present all over that burn site! That, in a nutshell, is one way to achieve heathland regeneration.

So it’s getting pretty autumnal out there. Bird migration is happening and I’m still looking out for Yellow-browed Warblers, which are kind of a Chiffchaff with yellow lines*3 ; there’s been lot of them this year in the UK. I did hear a Woodlark singing yesterday, which is kind of out of season but can happen, and there was a Firecrest in a rather inaccessible bit of woodland next to the A22 about a mile north of Wych Cross the other day.

There are also a few insects around. Firstly there’s this female Southern Hawker.

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This was in mid-September but I quite like this Small Copper.

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And finally there are all these little insects which you can’t really see buzzing around this Ivy, but a good tip for insect watching is that Ivy is one of the last flowering plants of the year.

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With that, I’ll end there.

Tom

*1 I’ll probably regret those words.

*2 No lizards were harmed in the replacing of that sleeper sign.

*3 Look in a bird book to get a better Yellow-browed Warbler description.