Light my fire

It’s been a little while since my last blog and we’ve fitted a lot into that time!

TomHail2

First of all, here’s proof that we do work in all weathers, including this hailstorm which was almost a daily (and not always forecast!) occurrence.

We were clearing hardwood tree species and taking the product back to burn in our wood burner back at the Visitor Centre. The main reason, though, was to restrict the spread of trees into heathland, which in the long term would become woodland. However, we do leave Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus) as it is the food plant for the Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni).

We have been seeing the first butterflies emerge in the past 2 weeks, as well as some summer visiting birds, such as our heathland specialist, the Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata), and Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita).

TomSeahorse

A lot of the trees we remove are Silver Birch (Betula pendula) and some of the stumps are interesting shapes, like this one which I think looks like a seahorse (but that could just be me…)

I have also been trying using my Bushnell Trail Camera which I have used to record wildlife in previous roles and used it for the first time on the Forest the other day. Not surprisingly, the first thing it recorded was a pair of Fallow Deer, but it’s a start!

To see what was recorded, please follow the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBOoTuNGBgY

One of the management practices that I have most looked forward to carrying out here has been controlled burning of areas. The first place I was on the scene of a burn was not far from Millbrook East car park and we were burning this area for the benefit of Marsh Gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe). Hopefully I’ll have some photos of this lovely little bright blue flower in July, which is the start of its flowering season.

TomBurnIn the meantime, here’s what ‘the burn’ looked like. One of the advantages of this management technique for removing vegetation is that no nutrients are being put back into the soil, which is key for plants that like low nutrient level soils.

TomBurnAfter

When we have a controlled burn, we have means of putting the fire out should it spread, with 2 water tanks totalling 800 litres of water mounted on the back of one of our trucks and on one of the trailers towed by the tractor.

There are also fire breaks which are usually cut areas so there isn’t vegetation for the fire to use to spread to another area. In this case however, there was a very wet margin and you can see in this photo the limit which the fire spread to.

That’s about it for now. I’ll leave you with a photo of what the Forest looks like from Gills Lap Clump in the fog.

Tom SimonTomFog