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Saturday, 9 January 2016

2016 - A New Year in Badock's Wood

 After what seems like weeks of almost continual rain it was a delight to get out into the woods on Wednesday to recharge the batteries. Just what the doctor ordered after a Christmas and New Year period which, although very enjoyable, was generally rather busy. But the last few days have been gorgeous in the wood. Plenty of January sun with often clear blue skies.
The New Year can be an exciting time and you can hear a more lively chatter from walkers and birds alike as they enjoy the sunshine and for the birds it is a time to eat well and to build themselves up to survive any cold times ahead. They also need to get themselves into peak condition for the breeding season if they want to attract a mate and ward off competitors.





This bluetit was doing just that today (8th Jan). It was busily feeding  in amongst the Alder catkins, sometimes hanging upside down to get at the insects which become more active in sunny weather. It has no time to lose because the days are short and it will lose a lot of weight overnight, about 5% of its bodyweight and will need to eat about 300 insects during the day. No wonder it's so busy !!
There's an interesting British Trust for Ornithology article about this; see BTO.

 It was a wise bird because for a while the nights will be very cold. There was frost and ice on the pond in the meadow this morning. This could cause problems for the herons as well if many of the ponds and lakes are frozen. I would think they would get a good feed at the Henleaze Swimming Lake if they are careful. I saw a heron flying over the wood on Thursday being chased by two crows. It's unlikely that the crows would actually attack the heron but it's enough to send it looking for quieter territory. If you'd like to find out a bit more about mobbing and it's purpose then see this RSPB article:mobbing.
This blossom which is just beside the pond softens the harsh landscape of ice and frost. It will also attract insects, firstly to pollinate but also the birds will take advantage and feed on any small insects available.
I think this is wild cherry blossom that has dropped a petal. There are usually five petals to a flower.
The recent mild weather has brought out many flowers and buds early but there is a concern that they might be damaged by any sharp frosts.





We saw or heard three song thrushes on our walk around the wood on Thursday morning. They normally sit high in a tree to sing and one characteristic is that they repeat a phrase, often three times. A very melodious song. There aren't many red berries about now, most having been consumed but there are still plenty of ivy berries. These are black and a very important source of food during the winter. I also saw redwings, which are a type of thrush and who are winter visitors, feeding on the ivy. They sometimes travel in large flocks hunting for any berries and  they can quickly strip a tree or shrub of its fruit. Of course, this helps the plant because the seed will pass through the bird and be dropped far from the parent plant and will have a greater chance of successful growth.





 Other birds that were  feeding on the ivy today are Wood Pigeons. Wood Pigeons tend to be very noisy and if you hear a lot of rustling in the shrubs or trees it will most likely be either a wood pigeon bustling its way through or a squirrel hanging on the smallest twig to get at the fruit. It is surprising that more Wood Pigeons don't break their wings on branches as they flap through, and also that more squirrels aren't injured by falls.




We were pleased to hear two Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming on Thursday. They were towards the Doncaster Road end of the wood and were noisily proclaiming their territory or trying to attract a mate. They drum  only during the breeding season so  it is one more sign that Spring is just around the corner. Here is a photo I put in an earlier post of one of a pair that I saw near the Lakewood Road entrance.
The green woodpecker doesn't drum but has an unmistakeable characteristic laughing call.









I'm sure that robins sing their beautiful song just for our pleasure.. but they do seem to enjoy singing it so much themselves too. This one serenaded me in the meadow on Wednesday.
They do also have a 'tic tic' warning call that you might hear. It's very similar to the call of a wren but whenever I've spotted the caller it has been a robin. It is a very common call so do listen out for it. Listen here to hear what to listen for: robin call.



I mentioned in the previous post the recently fallen ash tree over the Trym. It had fallen across the path but the council were quick to come and clear the way. It was passable to the more agile among us but was still a barrier to the less mobile. Even after the path had been cleared the tree was still a challenge to at least one young man on a December day. Fortunately he made it there and back under the watchful eye of adults. Needless to say caution is required. I am sure that the tree will be a landmark for some time to come.



 There was a Work Party in the wood today. It was a joint venture with FOBW and Avon Wildlife Trust. Here we are having instruction on coppicing. It was hard work but very satisfying and the plants, insects and birds will all benefit. But more on that next time...
To read more  click AWT or FOBW. 





Notes:
  • You can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.
  • If you would like to comment on anything in the blog you can contact me at: badockswood@virginmedia.com
  • To see what opportunities there are for you to help with the conservation and maintenance of Badock's Wood please contact FOBW via fobwsecretary@yahoo.co.uk. This year there will be a monthly program of Work Parties to help control invasive and other plants. There will also be monthly Litter Picks to control the litter in the woods. These events can be fun as well as beneficial to the wood. More information can be found on the FOBW website. Keep a watch for updates: click here. 
  • The next Litter Pick will be at 10am on 23rd January. For details see posters around the wood or make contact via fobwlitter@yahoo.co.uk or the FOBW website.
  •  If you would like notification of future posts put your email address in the box at the top right of the page.
I hope 2016 is a good year for Badock's Wood and for all those who are involved in its care.

mike townsend

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