Having been away, been busy, or just had awful cold, wet weather, it was about 2 weeks since I’d visited the wood. So this weekend nothing was stopping me from going. My daughter unexpectedly came home for the weekend, and she agreed we must go. She was sad to have missed the garlic in full flower this year, it is always spectacular.
So on Sunday morning we packed the kelly kettle and drove to the wood. We were a bit sad to see that 1 of our neighbours had used his ride-on mower to cut the ride. I love it when the cow parsley is waist high. We dumped our picnic bag at our usual fallen tree and set off to see what was happening in our patch. We examined the coppiced stools from last winter and the winter before for regrowth, some new shoots had been browsed off by deer, but others were surviving. The taller “copparded” (coppiced but at about 1m off the ground) stools were doing better than those coppiced at ground level. The ones we’d protected with brash were doing ok, except where the shoots had immediately grown out of the protection of the brash. Where we could we carefully tucked the shoots back inside
There were snails on almost every upright we looked at, whether it was growing or not. Our tiny door snails as well as the larger multi-coloured type snails. We checked on the oak sapling we’d planted in early spring, looking into it, the tree protector was stuffed full of new oak leaves, and it is well on the way to bursting out of the top. I was just taking a photo of door snails on the outside of the tree protector when my daughter exclaimed – there was the dying flower spike of an early purple orchid! The first we’ve ever seen in our part of the wood. Had it always been there? Or was it flowering now because our coppicing had given it extra light? Whichever it was, we were excited. As my daughter said,”Isn’t it nice to know that we’re not killing everything off?!”
We boiled the kettle and had lunch whilst enjoying the birdsong all around us. We heard blackbirds and thrushes, a calling nuthatch, garden warbler, blackcap, great tits, wrens, long tailed tits plus lots of things I wasn’t certain about. We watched a buzzard fly quietly through the trees. How do they do that? My daughter saw 2 birds chasing each other, flying fast and very low – she thought woodcock and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she was right.
Afterwards we walked round to the ride we scythed last year, hoping to see signs of common spotted orchids. But our neighbour and his mower had got there before us and we probably won’t see any orchids there this year. The butterfly ride hasn’t been cut for a couple of years and I’m beginning to wonder if that means the orchids won’t flower there this year either. I intend to scythe it later this year.
Finally we collected our things together and wandered off to the car. As I was changing out of my muddy boots, my daughter saw what she thinks was a very small muntjac cross the ride – I, of course, missed it.