Please see our photo gallery above for some of our May/June highlights
In order of display:
Identifying butterflies on one of our weekly counts
Green-veined White butterfly
Newly opened Lime leaves
Great Spotted Woodpecker juvenile peeping out of its nesting hole
Carving a Willow Tit 'starter home' in a birch stump
Female Orange-tip butterfly (N.B. only males have the distinctive orange-tip to their wings)
Orange Ladybird on tree stump
Lime Ride in May
Scorched Wing moth (photography by Jonathan Wallace)
New scalloped clearing alongside Main Ride
Woodruff Wood Work
Moving on from our recent work thinning out overcrowded trees from the pine coupe, we’ve now made a small clearing alongside Main Ride for the benefit of wildlife. This scalloped area is bathed in sunshine for the majority of the day and provides a warm and sheltered spot for butterflies and other insects to enjoy. Its design follows a tried and tested formula to achieve the greatest benefit – the east to west orientation allows in the maximum amount of sunlight and the resulting increase in invertebrates provides food sources for many other species.
Willow Tit ‘Starter Homes’
We’ve also created ‘starter homes’ for willow tits within our new scallop. A number of standing tree stumps have been left deliberately high (over 1m tall) and we’ve carved a notch into them which is north-east facing so as not to be too exposed to the full sun. We hope a pair of willow tits will choose one of these notches as a base for excavating a nesting hollow once the trees begin to rot. Willow tits peck out a nest site with their bills and due to their small size, they can only excavate soft, rotten wood. Only time will tell if our ‘starter homes’ are a best seller but as this species is in major decline across the UK, we will try our hardest to give them a helping hand.
Whilst we hope that our tall tree stumps will become home to nesting willow tits in the future, we’ve noticed just how popular the other tree stumps (which are cut near ground level) already are with a wide variety of animals. We regularly find signs of activity such as snail shells which have been left by song thrushes using the stumps as anvils to break open their prey along with nibbled cones which are the remains of feeding red squirrels. Flying insects such as ladybirds use them as temporary landing posts whilst birds such as jays, magpies and woodpigeons love to use them as lookout points surveying for danger.
Our wildlife camera recently picked up this image of a red squirrel tucking into a tasty treat:
Great Spotted Woodpecker Juveniles
A pair of great spotted woodpeckers has nested for the second consecutive year in a standing dead birch tree along Main Ride. They have become much more tolerant of our presence this year as we pass by working, whereas last year they were much more nervous and would repeatedly sound their alarm call.
The good news is that once again they have been successful in rearing their brood of young which have recently left the nest. We could hear an increase in noise coming from high up inside the tree at the end of last week (the nest hole is about 13m up) which was a sign that the youngsters were near the point of fledging. To our delight, when we took a quick peep through binoculars, we saw a juvenile woodpecker taking its first look outside of its nesting hole. No doubt with a bit of encouragement from its parents who were waiting in a tree nearby, this little fellow along with its brothers and sisters, soon ventured outside for the very first time a short while after this photo was shot:
Our weekly butterfly transect walks are in full swing now, although we’ve had to pick and choose the best days to carry them out. The weather thankfully has warmed up over the last week or so but prior to that it was easy to walk through the wood without seeing a single butterfly. However, when the sun is shining and the temperature rises above 13oC, butterflies are quick to appear along the woodland rides. They are a joy to watch as they flit about from flower to flower, dash hurriedly past, bask in the warm sunshine and go about their courtship rituals.
Our counts to date indicate a similar number of butterflies this year compared with last year in Woodruff Wood. The national UK trend depicts a worrying decrease in numbers so it is important for us to remain butterfly friendly. Our recent work (as mentioned above) in creating a scalloped area off Main Ride is one such way in which we are improving the habitat for these beautiful insects and they are already loving this new patch. One Red Admiral has taken up full time residence in the scallop and very rarely ventures beyond its boundaries!
To round off this month’s news, here is a selection of butterflies out flying in Woodruff Wood this June:
Woodruff Wood,Longhirst, Morpeth, Northumberland
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'Increasing Productivity of Woodruff Wood Woodfuel (Firewood)'
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