Please see our photo gallery above for some of our February/March highlights
In order of display:
A red Elfcup fungus
Pine cones stripped by Red Squirrels
Felling a limb of a Sycamore tree
Peacock butterfly (a species which may start to appear on warm days in March)
Cutting tree guards to length in front of the fire!
Main Ride with newly planted tree saplings protected in guards
Late afternoon sunlight on the tops of the Scot's Pine trees
Woodruff Wood Work
Winter is a busy time for woodland workers as there are a multitude of seasonal tasks to be done when the trees are dormant and prior to causing disturbance during the breeding season. February in Woodruff Wood proved to be no exception to this rule as we tackled both tree felling and tree planting.
On paper, it all looks counterproductive – why the need to do both as surely if you don’t fell the trees in the first place, you don’t need to replace them by planting new ones?
Not so however – woodland management involves careful long-term planning and actions to create the desired structures and habitats to meet future aims. In our case, we hope Woodruff Wood will thrive for many years to come with an emphasis on achieving maximum biodiversity for wildlife. In order to achieve this aim, both tree felling and planting are necessary.
Our felling programme removes overcrowded trees (known as thinning) and widens existing rides to allow more sunlight into the wood. This encourages remaining and new trees to grow and benefits many species of flora and fauna.
On the other hand, our planting programme currently concentrates on planting up ride edges with wildlife friendly shrubs and small trees. We planted 100 bare-rooted saplings last month, protecting them with tall guards to prevent browsing by Roe Deer. Bare-rooted trees must be planted between November and March in order to establish themselves prior to bursting into life in spring. It was so cold when we were doing this job that we resorted to making the guards at home in front of the fire before transporting them to the wood ready assembled for placing around each sapling. Anything to make our lives easier!
New Species in the Wood – Brown Hare!
Our wildlife camera caught an unexpected image of a Brown Hare crossing over a track in the wood last month. This is a new species for us in Woodruff Wood – our first ever sighting, although we’re sure that the occasional hare must pass through from time to time. However, it certainly isn’t a frequent occurrence and we’ve now added it to our species list as a new mammal found in the wood. Hares usually occupy more open habitats such as grassland and farmland where they are active mainly at night. However, they can lie up in woodland edges throughout the day and part of their diet consists of nibbling young tree bark. Woodruff Wood is surrounded by fields so perhaps it’s no surprise to find a hare venturing in for a look around. Our video clip shows it heading back towards the fields at 4.30pm – possibly getting ready for a night of foraging – or perhaps looking for love…..!
The height of the breeding season for hares is this month. Look out for ‘mad March hare’ boxing displays as you pass by any open farmland. These boxing rituals are usually performed by unreceptive females fighting off amorous males!
Whilst walking down Brock’s Ride, we almost trod on a small bright red object which had magically appeared from nowhere. On closer inspection, it turned out to be an Elfcup which is a type of fungus. There are two red Elfcups in the UK – Scarlet and Ruby – which are very similar in appearance and so we don’t know for sure which one it is. They are found in winter months on dead twigs in damp, shady places; usually part buried in moss. The inner cup is bright red in colour whilst the outer surface is paler and coated with tiny hairs. It was a lovely splash of colour at what is quite a dull time of year and we especially love its alternative name of Fairies’ Baths!
Whilst we are all in favour of providing our Red Squirrels with supplementary food in addition to their natural diet, we have to weigh up the benefits against the disadvantages. This often results in us varying our feeding programme depending on the situation. At present, we are not filling our feeder with nuts as we think that the risk of the Reds coming into contact with Grey Squirrels is too high and therefore the risk of passing on the pox virus is equally high. One or two Greys keep randomly appearing in the area and are unpredictable in their movements. Therefore, the chances of the two species coming together at the feeder are great and so best avoided for the time being.
However, we are confident that any Red Squirrels living in Woodruff Wood aren’t going hungry. There is plenty of natural food around and it looks like the Reds have recently been gorging themselves on pine cones high up as our track is littered with stripped cones beneath these trees. It is documented that Red Squirrels are left or right handed when eating pine cones – we’ve no idea whether this is true but it’s certainly an interesting fact!
Woodruff Wood,Longhirst, Morpeth, Northumberland
'Passionate about wildlife & firewood'
T: 07525 841361 (9am - 8pm)
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