An Interesting February

Clearing a ditch

The beginning of February meant we had to set up for the hedge laying competition and this involved clearing all the scrub from either side of the proposed hedge and picking up the farm rubbish. Once the site was ready all we had to do then was to find some stakes and binders , but where to get them from? Well, as it happened, another hedge had quite a bit of elm scrub in the ditch, it was perfect for the stakes and we even found some binders but most had to be bought in.

Chipping the brash

Having hosted the Wimpole Hedge Laying Competition on the first Saturday in February we had to clear up… what a mess! loads of brash to chip. Luckily for us we had the Cambridge National Trust Volunteers to help. It was a rather cold, wet and dreary day

Laying the rest of the hedge

so there was nothing for it but to start a fire and much appreciated it was. While some were chipping others were burning; meanwhile I carried on laying the hedge with some of the CNTV placing the stakes and binding the hedge… all were busy with useful work and working as a team. Below is a small gallery.

CNTV

Many thanks to the CNTV for all their hard work on a cold, wet Sunday.

Laying the rest of the hedge

Normally I don’t lay a complete hedge like this as we carry on the next year with another competition but this time we needed to lay all 400m of it- half Midland style and the other half was laid in the South of England style.

Last bit to be laid

Finally the whole hedge was laid and we had a big pile of wood which was left for one of the house tenants on the estate- better to warm someone’s house than spend a lot of time and fuel chipping it up!!!!!

Firewood

 

 

We did have a pleasant surprise at Rectory Farm while working on the hedge- there were around 7 or 8 short eared owls hunting over the clover leys.

 

Hunting rats in the straw and muck heap

Two kites, perhaps they will breed this year!

There were also quite a few kestrels, a pair of sparrow hawks, a few buzzards, a barn owl and two kites. Just goes to show you that what appears to be an untidy field is actually teeming with wildlife as there were over ten hares, partridge, pheasant and hordes of small birds… oh, plus the rabbits and rats which the Jagdterriers were helping to reduce in number.

Tiding up Cobbs Wood Farm

Mowing the remainder of the lop and top not suitable for chipping

Having completed the hedge at Rectory Farm it was time to clear up Cobbs Wood Farm- there was a huge heap of lop and top from the gardens to chip up but some proved a tad more problematic so we mulched it with the mower… brilliant, all sorted!

New metal skip arrives

Part of the clear up included recycling lots of iron from around the estate. It is always surprising to see the amount of metal that is left lying around, must have recycled over a hundred tons over the last twenty years. Now we usually fill two skips each year amounting to approximately five tons annually, where does it keep coming from?!!!!!!!!

Litter picking- ughh!

Another job that nobody else really wants to do is to pick up all the rubbish thrown away alongside the roads surrounding the estate. It seems to be getting worse and this year we filled the back of the Ford Ranger in just a 1000m section of road. Worst of all was the number of dirty nappies thrown out as people leave the estate, worse than dog poo bags left in trees!!!!!!! Anyway, a good job done by all the countryside team, thank you very much.

Woodland sunrise

Perhaps a nice gallery of the landscape at Wimpole is in order.

 The Chinese Bridge

Another job for February was to clear the vegetation around the Chinese Bridge. This area was only cleared five years ago but everything grows so quickly and there was an awful lot of rubbish to bag, including the all too ubiquitous dog poo bags- why oh why do people think there are poo fairies to clear up after them?!!!!

Clearing the spillway

A bit cramped

Once the spillway had been cleared the water started to form a continuous wall of water however there is some repair work required on the Chinese Bridge as it’s now 35 years old and some of the wooden joints have started to rot. Always maintenance work to do.

Horizon

Had an interesting evening during this month- the BBC Horizon programme  makers came to Wimpole to film up at the Folly around a fire. It is going to be a programme about psychosis, should very very interesting and apparently it will be shown in April or May.

The monthly Wympole Green Woodworkers

It wasn’t the warmest day but nearly twenty people came to February’s Sunday meet to make all sorts of wooden items (although I didn’t actually get to see what was made as very unfortunately I was invited to Thriplow for a pub lunch which I reluctantly had to go to… seriously, are you doubting me?!!!!!!!)

Storm Doris

So, as if we didn’t have enough work, Mother Nature decided to give the woodlands a shake up. Storm Doris paid us a visit and wreaked havoc felling quite a few trees.

Winching out hung up trees

Another one to remove and make safe

Mostly it was the ash trees that came down but there was one really big field maple that fell to the ground. We will have to plank that up as large (28 inch diameter) field maple is a rarity.

More to move

Micro habitat for deadwood invertebrates and bees

One thing about a storm is it does sort out those trees with cavities you can’t see. One ash had a massive cavity that some honey bees had used for their hive, they’ll have to find a new home now!!! It is an important point though that many of these cavities contain some very rare invertebrate insects so, although we will collect a lot of the timber, those with cavities and other micro habitats we will leave so that the wildlife can survive.

An easy way to identify the tree top lichens: this one is Ramalina fastigata

Another boon when trees fall down is the ability to inspect the twigs and branches for lichens and mosses; of late we are seeing more species of Ramalina. Not seen R. farina yet but we may soon…

 

About Sadeik

You may ask why "Sadeik" well it means friend in arabic. Worked in Jordan a lot doing tree surgery you see. I have worked in forestry since I left school with a two years in Telecom. Went back to forestry and tree surgery as it may not have paid as much but was far more interesting and dangerous. Spent a lot of years mountaineering, caving and canoeing too. At 29 I went to Bangor University to study Forestry and soil science then did an MSc in Water engineering all very interesting. By a quirk of fate in 1995 ended up helping sort out the woodland and park at Wimpole, funny thing was then I only intended to stay six months or so, but 18 years later I'm still here learning all the time. That's the best bit, if I wasn't able to learn something new every year I would not have stayed and as you get older you realise that the grass is not so green in the next field after all. In fact my patch is getting greener while much of the rest is getting browner.
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2 Responses to An Interesting February

  1. graemeu says:

    are you sure it’s a lichen? not perhaps a camouflage cloak for a faery?
    Before you fetch the straight jacket take a closer look.

    Liked by 1 person

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