Please see our photo gallery above for some of our April/May highlights
In order of display:
Marsh Marigold in Middle Ditch
Hoverfly on Lesser Celandine
Purple Thorn moth (photography by Jonathan Wallace)
Scot's Pine Coupe
Green-veined White butterfly
Newly hatched Common Frog tadpoles
Common Dog Violet
Woodpigeon feeding on Ivy berries
Wych Elm seeds
Sunset over Main Ride
Woodruff Wood Work
We escaped the majority of April showers last month and the wood is now the driest it’s been for quite some time. This makes such a difference when we work – it’s been bliss not to have been slipping and sliding in mud with the wheelbarrow inevitably getting stuck as it sinks into the ground when fully laden!
We took advantage of this dry weather and seized every opportunity to carry out our work which at this time of year focusses strongly on firewood preparation for next winter. Many logs have been cut to length and split – these are now seasoning well and will continue to dry out over the summer ready for sale in a few months time. As is the norm, we split the majority of our logs by hand with an axe. It’s time consuming but good exercise!
Birdsong is at its best right now. Standing and listening for just 60 seconds on a recent sunny afternoon, we heard an impressive 13 bird species singing around us in the treetops. It just goes to show that you don’t have to get up at the break of day to hear the dawn chorus – birds are singing throughout the entire day in May to attract mates and claim their territories. It’s fabulous to hear – a great way for all of us to destress in today’s hectic lifestyle.
As for our favourite song – we think the blackbird comes out top. Aren’t we lucky to be able to enjoy its lazy, restful summer melody every single day?
P. S. For those of you interested, the 13 bird species we heard were dunnock, wren, robin, goldcrest, blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff, chaffinch, blue tit, woodpigeon, mistle thrush, song thrush and of course….blackbird!
Tadpoles and Ducks
Frogspawn was laid in one of our new shallow ditches back in March and the eggs have now hatched out as tadpoles. It is some weeks before these tadpoles transform into froglets and just how many of them will reach this stage is questionable. Tadpoles form a vital part of the food chain and most get eaten along the way by a variety of animals including hedgehogs, dragonfly larvae and birds. On average, over 90% tend not to survive, which is why so many eggs are laid in the first place.
The current threat to our small population of tadpoles is a pair of mallard ducks. Mallards are wetland birds and not usually associated with woodlands but they can be found in a variety of habitats. As Woodruff Wood is a wet woodland, mallards occasionally drop in and a pair were seen a couple of times last month suspiciously close to where the tadpoles are living. What’s more, the normally clear water in the ditch was all muddied as if the ducks had been paddling and dabbling in it. Such is nature, but to date the mallards may have eaten some of the tadpoles but a good number still remain.
There have been a lot of purple splodges appearing on our stoned track recently which is in fact bird poo! Many of the birds have been feasting on an abundance of ivy berries which are dark purple - hence their brightly coloured droppings. In particular, blackbirds, thrushes and woodpigeons have been gorging themselves on this valuable food source which is no doubt providing them with much needed energy for the breeding season. We regularly hear loud rustling noises from up above as the heavy woodpigeons balance precariously on the ivy scrambling up the trees, whilst reaching out to eat the berries. It’s quite a comical sight!
Woodruff Wood in Bloom
We love May! Spring is at its best this month and especially so in woodlands where flowers are in full bloom. Whilst we don’t have any bluebells to shout about in Woodruff Wood, we do have lots of other lovely woodland plants which bring their own beauty to the place.
To round off this month’s news, here are a few of our favourite flowery images from the wood this spring:
Woodruff Wood,Longhirst, Morpeth, Northumberland
'Passionate about wildlife & firewood'
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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