Rory's Wood is one of the best places in the Reserve to hear a nightingale in spring, but in winter, what is there to see?
Every year at this time Rory's family gathers to remember his birthday and to do some management in the wood. I am always amazed at the diversity we have created there in quite a short time. It used to be a Turkey-oak monoculture with almost no understory, but a lot of other native trees have been planted and the Turkey-oaks have all gone.
The result is that a lot more light now penetrates the wood and so the field layer and the understory have greened up. Meanwhile, the felled oaks have rotted away to provide a medium for a myriad of mushrooms. I have never seen such an amazing array of fungi as I did on Sunday. In the rain, Rory's Wood looked like a dripping, mossy rain-forest from Washington State.
During this years work-party it rained continuously and so my camera misted up, but I still managed to get a few snaps before my mobile phone insistently beeped in "outdoor mode". I picked up a call from the Voluntary Wardens in the Visitors' Centre regarding a break-in in progress at the yard where we keep all our gear. I gathered a posse of two (almost) able bodied men and set off in swift pursuit.
We met a convoy of cars and prepared to do battle, only to find that they contained a team of volunteers on a Sunday work party that was organised by the Friends. Red faces all round! Frankly, I was relieved, as my posse was more concerned with finding a nice public lavatory. Us old guys have to consider our prostates before we go into a full-on rumble. All the same, we are up for it. Just bring it on! Grrrr.
The real reason for our work party was that I applied for a grant from the Forestry Commission (now ominously termed "Forest Enterprise" (It sounds like the sort of wooden ship that turns over and sinks off the Dutch coast). I succeeded in the application and was all set up to plant 1000 hazel trees when I was told that the money had run out. This is actually a relief because 1000 trees is an awful lot to plant on a small site. We settled for 100.
No doubt the squirrels and jays will be pleased, but, if we had a decent density of hazels, maybe dormice could move in?