Woodland Work and a ‘Wow!’

Monday, February 20th 2017

If you know a teacher they may seem a little more relaxed this week, enjoying the relative peace and quiet of half-term. The reverse is happening with us at Foxglove this week – the schools are off so we get more visits by families and we also put on events for children. Today included preparation for these, with more materials collected for our natural craft event on Wednesday and Keith dropping off bird box kits he’d kindly cut for us at home (thank you Keith) for the event on Friday. Both these events are now fully booked – if you’ve missed out this time why not get your family booked in early for our Easter holiday activities?

Elsewhere we’ve had a contractor in doing some of our more technical tree work, today reducing shade on the south facing bank of Risedale Beck.

It also included taking the top off this dead tree, as it was near to the path and getting increasingly fragile. Plenty was left standing too, as dead wood is an important habitat for our wildlife. Different types provide different habitats: for example standing dead wood provides different micro-habitats to dead wood on the ground, in the ground or under water.

An article I found by the RSPB summarises it nicely: “Around 1,800 invertebrate species in Britain are dependent on dead or decaying wood, as are a significant proportion of British fungi. Several declining birds utilise dead or decaying wood features for nesting and/or foraging: willow tits excavate nest holes in standing rotten wood, lesser spotted woodpeckers nest in dead snags and stems and forage on dead branches, other species use holes created by dead branch die-back or by woodpeckers.”

We had a quick look at the piece taken off and found this large centipede: 

We think it’s of the genus Lithobius, and so is a type of stone centipede. Stone centipedes are found under stones or bark (that’s where we found this one), or in soil or decaying matter. They are hunters, feeding on insects and other small invertebrates. 

We finished the day with a beautiful scene of evening sun through the trees on the way to the wetland. It makes for a lovely photograph…

...speaking of lovely photographs, we were sent this beautiful one of a sparrowhawk taken by John Hayden from the wetland hide.

All we could say was WOW!

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