The fairies have moved back in!

It’s been a busy week getting lots of bits and bobs done and we started it off by having our monthly rangers meeting outside in the sunny yard.

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Monthly rangers meeting outside in the sunny yard.

We have worked really hard this week to finally get the fairy doors back out into long wood for the family discovery trail – and they are looking fantastic!

We finished the pyrography, applied wood preservative and varnish and have installed them back into their respective woodland homes, each with their own hoggin front patio. There’s still some gardening work to do around them but the fairies have all moved back in so I expect they’ll be looking more natural and homey in no time.

Rob and I spent the day on Tuesday doing some tidy up jobs on Bushey Norwood – clearing an old fire site from our scrub bashing, litter picking and removing a rather sad-looking collapsed tree guard.

We also went to the balcony at the top of Rainbow Wood Fields to have a look at a dead beech that has just been felled by contractors. When we climbed up the hill to where the very top of the great tree trunk has cracked off, I saw scraps of old wax comb strewn across the floor amongst the sawdust and rotting wood. – And there inside the hollow of the tree was a honeybee hive, still partially intact even though there had clearly been lots of damage. The sweet stench of honey filled the hollow and there were at least five or six worker bees hanging around and tending to cells. I have never seen a wild colony before so it was very exciting for me. I returned to the site yesterday with Tabi and Rachel as I hadn’t had my camera with me when we found it, and Tabi and I had a tiny taste of the honey that we found in a cell of one of the comb scraps.

Usually we would have left the tree as a standing monolith to conserve the habitat for its resident mini-beasts. However, due to the new installment of the pond over which it was towering, we are expecting the site to attract many more visitors and so it unfortunately had to come down for health and safety reasons. I am unsure as to whether the hive will survive this level of disruption or being so close to the ground and in reach of potential honey thieves but I will be keeping an eye on it and we shall see.

It just goes to show how important it is to leave standing deadwood like this wherever possible – as I was explaining in my last post, Lambs??…It’s definitely Spring. Many solitary and social bee species rely on tree hollows like this to nest in and, no doubt, loss of woodland and over-managed woodland is likely to contribute to their declining populations.

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Simon detangling stone and root.

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Tabi crosscutting the offending tree

Tabi, Judy and I went to Smallcombe Woods on Wednesday where we worked alongside Simon, the waller who’s rebuilding the boundary wall between the woods and Smallcombe cemetery, to extricate a hazel tree that had managed to well and truly incorporate itself into the wall; in places looking as though it was assimilating the stones into itself so that tree and wall were one thing. I was able to get some more practice with the chainsaw and we had fun using brute force to bash out most of the stones from between the roots.

Rachel came to meet us after lunch so that we could walk through the woods and plan a school bug hunting event that’s coming up – the sun was beaming and the carpet of wild garlic and dogs mercury was glorious in the light.

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Smallcombe Woods

I also did my brushcutter course which completes all of my training. I am now well on my way to becoming a bona fide ranger. I’m looking forward to putting all my new skills into good use around the skyline for the rest of the year.

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5 comments

  1. clarepooley33 · March 20

    Congratulations on completing all your training, Alice! I love those little fairy doors you have installed – I hope the children appreciate them. I would love to be able to find such a large honeybee hive! You have had a busy and successful week it seems and with the benefit of some spring warmth and sunshine too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ntbathskyline · March 21

      Thanks Clare! It’s a really great feeling to have all the training out the way so that I can be more independent. The original fairy doors have been a huge success over the last couple of years so we hope that the kids will enjoy the new and refurbished ones. I have been loving the weather! The best thing about it warming up is it brings out all the insects – I’ve been seeing a fair few bumble bees, parasitoids and the first brimstone of the year. It’s a very exciting time for the insect enthusiasts among us. Thanks for taking the time to read. Best wishes,
      Alice

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ian Critchley · March 25

    Good pics – especially with the two old codgers in the middle at the Rangers’ Meeting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ntbathskyline · March 25

      Thanks Ian. Aren’t you all looking splendid in that sunshine! Hopefully it will actually be warm next time.

      Like

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