A week in Black Bog

TomBlackBog

This past week we have been working in the area that probably has many names; Black Bog, the bottom of the old airstrip or Braberry. Since most of what I was walking through felt like a bog, I’ll refer to it as Black Bog.

TomStrimmer

When the sun has been out, the light through the Scots Pines has been lovely and its really nice to take a moment to enjoy the view, but before anyone thinks that’s all I do here is what my view of the week has mostly been (see right).

I should mention that the brush cutter wasn’t on when I took this photo, but I have just flattened a stand of rhododendron with it!

Rhododendron ponticum, to give its full title, is one of the most invasive and dominating introduced plants in the UK. We are in the process of removing it from this area to prepare it for the grazing animals that will be used on this bit of land.

Once it is cut we gather it up and burn it on site. It’s not the easiest plant to burn and you can end up with a sort of un-burnt core to a rhododendron bonfire, hence this sort of horse-shoe shape.

TomFiredemonAnyway, that part of the Forest has been of interest for another reason this week as one of the Forest’s most notable birds, a Great Grey Shrike, was seen near there (thanks to the Ashdown Bird Group!) and as I was due to take a friend of mine around the Forest yesterday, I thought it would be churlish not to have a look!

TomCrossbill

Common crossbill

We didn’t find the Shrike but the first Scots Pine we walked under was full of Common Crossbills!

This is a male which is red and the female is green. For those who don’t know, the mandibles of their bills cross at the end to enable them to prise open fir-cones to get the seeds.

The flock we saw were very settled and gave great views but left at about 3:30 to go another part of the Forest. It turns that a member of the Ashdown Bird Group arrived at that spot about when we left and found the Shrike so we probably had our backs to it the whole time! Oh well! There were some lovely Woodlark at Poundgate which more than made up for it and the sunset wasn’t bad either!

Until next week,

Tom.

Tom Sunset