Please see the photo gallery above for some of our November/December highlights.
In order of display:
A parasol type of fungus
Autumn colours against a grey sky
Vole munching a leaf
Beech tree alongside a waterlogged Lime Ride
Beech leaf with insect galls
Candlesnuff Fungi on a mossy tree stump
Leaves gathering on Middle Ditch
Tree planting in the rain!
As autumn turns into winter, we reflect on what has been a pretty wet and miserable season just gone. However, it's not all been doom and gloom...
Work has been a rather slow affair, dominated by clearing bramble and tree planting. The bramble is steadily taking over Main Ride to the point where it is swamping out wildflowers and covering ground where we intend to plant shrubs. Whilst bramble is excellent for all kinds of wildlife, we don't want it everywhere. So we have been busy with the strimmer, cutting it back – a very messy affair given that everywhere is sodden. Not one of our favourite jobs!
In these cleared patches, we have planted a mixture of bird cherry, wych elm, guelder rose, crab apple and wild privet. We discovered a couple of wild privets growing further along the ride at the start of the year which has encouraged us to plant more of this species. Its flowers act as a food source for the ringlet butterfly – which flutter along Main Ride in late June and July. As it has a scrambling habit, we have planted the wild privet against tree stumps and fallen trees in the hope that they will climb up and gain some support.
Whilst there has been a noticeable lack of sunshine of late, the trees continued to shine last month prior to dropping their leaves. Against a leaden sky, the bronzes, golds and butter yellows lit up the wood, creating quite a special atmosphere. They really were a blaze of glory:
Now though, most of the deciduous trees are bare, with the exception of the young beech trees which cling onto their copper leaves throughout most of winter:
A squeaking vole caught our attention recently as it rummaged through the leaf litter. Peering down, we glimpsed it sitting under the root of a birch, munching on a leaf. It was taking small semi-circular nibbles along one edge. It could be either a bank vole or a field vole – but we can't be sure which.
The red squirrels are back at our feeder. After being absent throughout September and October – most likely due to the autumn glut of natural food – we were delighted to see their return in mid November. The trouble is we can no longer tell them apart! There are at least two if not three different animals – but they all have a dark tail. Over the summer, Little Red (our female) had a blonde tail whilst Butch (our male) had a red tail. Red squirrels do moult – but do they change their tail colour? And what do the juveniles now look like?
It's a nice problem to have. Looking carefully at the camera footage of the reds at the feeder, we can spot a few tiny nuances between them. These include differing shades of the underneath of their tails, the presence or lack of ear tufts and the way in which each stands on the platform whilst feeding. One male stands with his back to the feeder in the same way that Butch did. Perhaps we'll learn more about them with time – we hope so...
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!
Woodruff Wood,Longhirst, Morpeth, Northumberland
'Passionate about wildlife & firewood'
T: 07525 841361 (9am - 6pm)
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European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development
'Increasing Productivity of Woodruff Wood Woodfuel (Firewood)'
Woodruff Wood is grateful to have received funding for equipment and infrastructure to support us in the production of firewood