Please see the photo gallery above for some of our November/December highlights.
In order of display:
Scarce Umber moth (photography by Jonathan Wallace)
Off to work in the rain!
Ferns dazzling in the sunshine
Bracket fungi on a dead Birch
Birch tree tops
Oak leaves after rain
Lime Ride after dark
A Gloomy November
What a gloomy November it's been this year! Damp, drab and dismal are the words that spring to mind – sunshine has been glimpsed only on occasions.
Waterproofs and wellies have been fished out of the cupboard and put to good use after our summer drought whilst we plod on slowly with our current job. We are working in Dry Wood (so called because it's not quite as muddy as everywhere else!) coppicing sycamores and using the brash to create a wildlife friendly dead hedge along part of our boundary. We hope the hedge will be a refuge for all sorts of insects, birds and mammals along with it being the ideal nesting site for blackbirds, song thrushes and dunnocks. The sycamores will be allowed to grow again as multi-stemmed specimens.
Although the light has been poor, there has still been a natural luminescence in the wood as the fallen leaves, moss, lichen and especially the dying ferns seem to almost glow in the dull conditions. In a funny way, it's quite a magical experience as you wander along the tracks.
However, on the brief occasions when the sun does shine, the ferns display their beauty in a different manner by dazzling in the beams filtering through the canopy now that the trees are almost stripped of their leaves.
Whatever the weather, darkness arrives early at this time of year. We leave it until the last moment of daylight before we pack up which inevitability means that we are leaving the wood in darkness. The headlights of the car guide us out along the rides which are lit up briefly whilst we make our way home.
For the last few months, grey squirrels have been a constant presence in the wood. There has been a steady stream of both adults and juveniles moving into the area post breeding season which sadly seems to be the norm nowadays. When we first took over caring for the wood and its inhabitants back in 2014 (which really is not all that long ago), sightings of greys were few and far between whilst sightings of red squirrels were far more frequent. How quickly things change...
Now the reverse is true with reds being spotted only on occasions. November is probably a typical example with just one sighting of a lovely male red squirrel looking in fine condition. However, our neighbours do report more frequent viewings as a small number of individuals (which can be recognised by differences in their appearances) regularly come to feeders outside their kitchen windows.
So, although things aren't great, we do continue to be optimistic about the reds. Our small neighbourhood is keen to support their survival and essential control work on removing greys has been stepped up. And, hot off the press..... we've not had any sightings of grey squirrels for the last three weeks.
And finally, to round off another year at Woodruff Wood, we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Enjoy sitting by your fire burning our home grown, sustainable logs over the festive period!
P.S. We managed to snap this photo of holly berries before they were all gobbled up by the blackbirds and thrushes who just love them! We only have this one mature female holly tree in Woodruff Wood that berries (although we are planting lots more to increase numbers in the years to come).
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