WordPress tells me that it is 5 months since I last posted anything here! How did that happen? I’m really not sure, but I’m sorry, and I will try to give you the highlights but I’ll begin with a lowlight.
We coppiced this winter’s plot between November and the end of February without too much trouble, comfortably finishing before the bulbs had done anything more than push the tips of their leaves through the earth. Sometimes I worked alone, sometimes I was joined by either my son or my daughter, occasionally by both. We had a few large branches come down in the storms, but nothing too serious. The ditch overflowed a few times where it had become dammed by fallen leaves and branches, and we spent an hour or two unblocking it so it could run freely again.
I feel as though I saw less wildlife through the winter this year. Fewer birds, no woodcock, and deer only 2 or 3 times at most, but plenty of voles. They appear to be unafraid of us to a ridiculous extent, emerging from numerous holes around the bases of trees when we are less than a metre away.
Whilst working alone one Sunday a man with a lurcher appeared. I’d seen him the previous day and wondered who he was, he’d given me the impression then that he belonged there and I didn’t. So the next day when he came into view, I thought I’d ask him why he was walking his dog in our woods? He laughed at me, not taking my question seriously at first, and his dog began circling me, never making eye-contact, whilst the man started to approach me. He gave me the names of some of the people who own other sections of the wood, said he’d never seen me there before – almost as though I had to account for myself being there. He vaguely suggested that he had permission to be there. Then his dog jumped up at me from behind and stayed there with it paws on my back, he didn’t even call it. I asked him to put his dog on a lead and get off my property, and he went, calling his dog and swearing over his shoulder at me. Afterwards I wondered if the dog would have jumped up at my back if I’d been using a chainsaw – that would have been scary.
Signs of spring started emerging as we were completing the coppicing. Woodpeckers drumming, then primroses and wood anemones flowering, hawthorn leaves bursting in all their vibrant
greenness. The delicate yellow flowers of Herb Paris, apple blossom, the bluebells and early purple orchids, and now, as I write, the wild garlic buds are starting to burst open while chiffchaffs and blackcaps sing.
Yesterday on a bright but windy day, my sister and I visited the wood. We stopped to speak to my wood-neighbours who had positioned a reclaimed garden seat, secured it to a tree, and were then painting it. We walked on admiring the flowers, listening to the birds and noting the butterflies, mostly orange-tips and brimstones. One caught my eye, initially I thought speckled wood, but it was too dark and too small – grizzled skipper perhaps? And just a little later we found these oak apple galls on the ground, the wood always has something new to offer.