Please see the photo gallery above for some of our May/June highlights.
In order of display:
Walking through Woodruff
Hare at dusk
Early Purple Orchid
Great Spotted Woodpecker (photography by Kyra Wallace)
Willow stump and Buttercups
Pale Tussock moth (photography by Jonathan Wallace)
Green-veined White butterfly on Greater Stitchwort
Robin on tree guard
For our own curiosity, we've been counting flowers of late. Not all flowers – that would be a challenge! - just select ones – primroses, bluebells, early purple orchids and garlic mustards.
These species have had mixed fortunes this year – two on the increase, two in decline. Reasons for each differ.
Primroses now line Brock's Ride, building up throughout April and into May with the odd one or two clinging on until early June. For the first time this year, we've counted them – there are 540 in total. We have to be careful not to tread on them as they are doing so well! This is thanks to the extra sunlight filtering in along the ride now that it has been opened up a touch. When we first arrived, it was impossible to walk its full length – we had to crawl on our hands and knees underneath the sprawling rhododendron!
Bluebells too, are on the up. Three or four years ago, we counted a whopping total of seven flower spikes! We quickly realised that they were a favoured delicacy of the roe deer who had been secretly munching them. Following protection with wire mesh, we have had a steady increase since then, resulting in 304 flower spikes this year. It's still a far cry from a stereotypical English bluebell wood – but we are pretty chuffed with what we've got none the less!
There is one small patch of early purple orchids which we were delighted to find when first caring for the wood. In 2015, around 80 were counted. As far as we can tell, nothing has changed, yet numbers have steadily fallen to just a handful today (13 in total). Do orchids naturally vary in above ground flower spikes from year to year or are the deer singling out these beautiful deep pink flowers as another of their tasty treats? We don't know.
And finally, the garlic mustard which was in abundance by the gate last year, has almost all vanished. Just a few specimens have flowered this year. Again, we don't know why. Perhaps the dry weather experienced last summer has had an impact or has it been outcompeted by more thuggish plants? Whatever the reason, it's worrying for our population of orange-tip butterflies which rely on this plant to lay their eggs. They too, have been far fewer in number throughout May.
We hope that by counting these flowers, we will be alerted to changes – for better or for worse – which will help guide us in our future management of Woodruff Wood.
The wood is filled with parents tending to their young right now. Adult birds are collecting food from dawn to dusk whilst keeping an eye out for danger. In particular, we have been watching robins, coal tits, starlings and woodpeckers. Each set of parents has its own routine which it closely keeps to. The robins hop down to the stoned track, flit up to the trees, then back down to rest on top of the tree shelters before returning to their broods with mouthfuls of goodies. The coal tits nest in holes at the bottom of tree trunks and quickly nip in and out without drawing attention to themselves.
A noisy starling brood has just fledged from an old woodpecker hole on our boundary whilst two sets of great spotted woodpecker parents have differing approaches – one set is cautious, continually alerting their young to danger and telling them to be quiet; whilst the other pair have a far more relaxed attitude, allowing their chicks to cheep away, despite us being in close proximity from time to time.
Little Red – and Butch!
Following on from our May News, Little Red the squirrel has continued to visit the feeder every day. She looks to be in good health and we are now fairly confident that she is a little girl.
A second red squirrel which we had previously glimpsed nearby is now also coming up to feed regularly. He is definitely a boy and we have named him Butch (thanks to his powerful, muscular looking hind legs).
Little Red tends to visit in the mornings whilst Butch prefers to come at teatime. Both have different mannerisms when eating which helps us to tell them apart - don't we all!
Woodruff Wood,Longhirst, Morpeth, Northumberland
'Passionate about wildlife & firewood'
T: 07525 841361 (9am - 6pm)
Please feel free to contact us today for further information!
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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