|Tree removed for safety reasons.|
All the same, we have lost quite a few trees this winter, one way or another, and it's time for a bit of a clean up before the spring growth really gets under way.
We are not generally a woodland site, but I have entered Rory's Wood and the adjoining boundary wood into the Forestry Commission's register. Our long term objective there is to have a good stock of native trees, but with a proper understory. Away from that area we have trees growing along paths, tracks and roads, and around lakes.
If a tree falls in a lake, it is a good thing as it provides shelter for fish and nesting sites for coots and moorhens. In fact we are being paid by Natural England to remove a lot of our waterside trees to improve the habitat for aquatic invertebrates. This is the case on Cloudy Pit, Washout Pit and Dodder Fen.
Oxford University is our landlord on a lot of the site and they sent a contractor to take care of dangerous trees along the roads and paths that they are responsible for. We took out some trees ourselves for the same reason. They mostly became unstable after several years of drought and then had their roots loosened by the heavy rainfall this year. Some had rot from top to bottom.
|Hornet clearwing moth.|
I'm always sad to see trees dying, but often it is just nature's cycle. I like to keep them standing as long as I can, because they look interesting and play host to a variety of insects and birds, as well as bats.
|Highland cow thinking of taking the Great North Road home.|
I had a series of calls at home regarding our highland cattle which had escaped and were in danger of getting onto the A1. I could not go and look, even for ten minutes, and the rangers on the tree course were reluctant to go as the lunch-break was too short to achieve anything and the course was a significant investment for us. Ranger Rob Martyr offered to go as soon as the course ended, but there was concern about the consequences that might occur if the cattle got onto the road. In the end Ray Matthews (Chairman of the Friends) managed to get a volunteer (Mike Thomas) and farmer, Alf Peacock, up to Diddington to assess the situation. They were quite surprised to find that the escaped cattle were indeed in danger of getting onto the A1 but that they were not our highlands at all, but longhorns belonging to the Boughton Lodge estate. There was a suggestion that a few of our cattle had gone over to join them for a while but, finding no bulls (I hope), got bored and turned back to the herd.
|Cheer up, spring is coming.|
While all this was happening. Rob went up and moved our 14 cattle some distance to another field, so that the potential for interaction between our cattle and those of our neighbour was reduced.
A number of lessons were learned, I can tell you! Not least among which is that, in an emergency, you need to go and look before you act, just to assess the situation.
It was a vert stressful day four several of us, but, looking back, you have too see the funny side, don't you?