One year ends and another begins

So it’s been warm, freezing cold and, after a little warm period,  the cold has come back. That being said, we have been as prepared for it as we can be by having quite large bonfires; here you will see one of our volunteers, Dan, demonstrating his method for drying out his gloves over the fire.
Pic 1Most of our recent work has been over at Payne’s Hill near Fairwarp where we have been clearing any encroaching scrub regrowth from an area of heathland. We’re not removing every tree in the area and this Sweet Chestnut I am quite fond of just because of its profile.
Pic 2Wandering round there, though, I did find one of these. It’s a former helium balloon and I do come across these quite often, so with all of our sensitive wildlife around here it is worth remembering that these things have to come down somewhere.
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With the unusually warm weather of recent weeks odd things have been happening, like daffodils coming into flower, so here something that’s not so unusual. It’s a November Moth and I did find it on the 12th November!Pic 4The end of 2015 saw us spend a few days tidying up our yard and barns and getting rid of things like this old watering can, which doesn’t look that thrilled with life – and I didn’t just say that so I could put in this photo.
Pic 52016, though, started in a rather illuminating way and in a manner that I’ll admit is quite good fun!
Pic6This was a controlled burn we carried out just south of Stonehill Car Park and I’m pleased to say that it was a ‘good burn’, as in it burnt slowly and was very controlled. The general idea for that area is to burn the gorse away and remove nutrients that mowing the site would just put back in; we will mow the burnt gorse at a later date and then graze to control the gorse for the benefit of the heather.
Here you can see the skeletal remains of the burnt gorse.
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In less incendiary habitat management news, (although bonfires are included in this a bit), we are carrying on with the removal of deciduous scrub encroachment (phew!) by cutting trees and spraying them with a herbicide which is harmless to humans and other animals.

If you wonder why a stump you find is blue, it’s from the dye we put in our herbicide.
Some trees we are leaving, mainly the Alder Buckthorn which is one of the main food plants for the Brimstone butterfly.

At this time of year, identifying an Alder Buckthorn is slightly difficult with no leaves to help but the wood is a bright lemon yellow, as seen here in this twig.
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That’s about it for now! I’ll leave you with a smoky Silver Birch from one of our controlled burn days.
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Thanks for reading!
Tom.