Thursday, 8 January 2015

If You Go Down To The Woods Today......

I spent Wednesday in the woods laying a dead hedge with my buddies from college. A dead hedge is an ancient method of protecting newly coppiced hazel by keeping deer and livestock out. You cut branches and saplings and lay them at broadly 45 degree angles into the ground, thick point in first and then stack more on top and along until you've created an impenetrable line of wood. It looks a little like the dissolute wild cousin of a laid hedge, but it does the job just grand. We were pleased with our efforts.




 There are few things nicer in life than spending a day working deep in the woods, regardless of the weather. I need occasional commune with the trees in the same way that the sea calls to me now and then, or the Chalk or rivers. It balances me and I get lost in it.

This woodland is ancient woodland that has been let go; unmanaged and unloved for many years, the trees have grown into a wild damp untidy tangle, the canopy so thick that nothing grows on the woodland floor and only mosses and lichens thrive....


.....or so I thought.

Look closer and you'll find ancient oaks, hinting at the age and previous liveliness of the wood. Moss-clad they are, and ivy-wrapped, like everything else here.....

 
But if you go closer still, if you creep up to their branches and stand beside them with your palm on their trunks and whisper quietly to them, then slowly, one by one, they offer up their secrets and let you in to a world of tiny creatures that are not only surviving in this seemingly dark, damp, dreary place- they are positively thriving....

Small things you'd never normally notice make clever use of the nooks and crannies provided by the trees to spin silken webs and hide their children till the Warmth returns.....


Tiny woodland snails all sharp and pointy ended stick to the underside of a chunk of bark and remain there motionless all day, sleeping....



An entire family of woodlice scuttle across the damp strands of moss, looking for food....


And the moss itself, fruiting bodies standing up staring skyward, is a soft bed for all manner of creatures....

 
 Fungi erupt from fallen branches and the thick leaf litter, doing their bit to recycle debris and keep the woods clean....








 

And then, on the woodland floor, among the holes dug by badgers searching for roots and the scuff marks of pheasants raking the earth for grubs, the unmistakable signs that Spring is not far ahead and an end to winter will come.....


I'll leave you with some pics of the doggy folk passed out as usual in front of the fire....





And in case anyone wondered, it's the lovely Gareth Malone sorting out yet another choir on the tele :o)

Hope all are well? 

CT :o)

36 comments:

  1. A lovely post CT, words and pictures both. Funny how you are drawn to the sea and ancient woodland for they call to myself as well. There is something powerful and deep about both and stirs my spirit so.

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    1. Old places and ancient ways, John. Kindred spirits, you and I.

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  2. I love the old ways of looking after woodland, what a good job you made of the dead hedge. Your photos are fantastic, especially the fungi. And those dogs - in heaven I think. wonderful! CJ xx

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    1. Thanks, CJ. So glad you enjoyed the photos. It's a new (ish) camera and I'm still getting to grips with it x

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  3. You do post so evocatively, I feel as though I spent a day there myself. A pair of cosy little doggies, my little doggy friend is snoozing as I type.

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    1. Thank you :o) How is your doggy pal getting on? Hope all settled in now? xx

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  4. It is a skill that could be lost, I hope not....more woods need to be managed better even the small ones. Lots of lovely finds amongst the trees, I love the little spiral snail which I had to look up...Two Toothed Door Snail its called. Not sure if it's localised as I have not seen one round here.
    Amanda xx

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    1. Thanks for the ID, much appreciated :o) We have a course on molluscs coming up which should be interesting- using keys mainly. xx

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    2. ps- just looked snail up. Clausilia bindentata is widespread through the UK according to my (somewhat ancient so it may have since changed) snail book. I'm sounding a small note of caution on the species ID because according to my book there are several in this genus and associated sub-families that are hard to tell apart (as with so many snail species) xx

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  5. A dead hedge sounds just what I need to keep the sheep out.

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    1. And the deer, but probably not the mice :o) xx

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  6. Your fungi pictures are beautiful CT. I have the same urge to sometimes escape the coast and immerse myself in a city. I love the bustle and anonymity it gives me. But it also makes my hair greasy and gives me spots, so I don't tend to stay too long.
    Leanne xx

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    1. I like cities for a day but don't like the grimy knackered feeling they leave me with, it's a different kind of fresh tiredness you get from the great outdoors. xx

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  7. Nice evocative post, I can almost smell the mossy damp wood. Just wondering CT, if you have any opinions on those buy a woodland schemes?

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    1. I don't know about the woodland schemes? Woodland purchases have certainly become more popular over the years which is great as long as people know how to look after them.

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  8. Hello T&P! How did you know I was wondering what you were watching on TV! Your mushroom photos are amazing, they look like true works of art - shrooms and pictures! I have seen these dead hedges before I think, but didn't know what they were, and never heard the term either. I guess I probably thought it was a laid hedge that was just dead! It is a good name for it and a great way to keep things in and out and provide some habitat too I guess. xx

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    1. Some dead hedges have large pipes set in to them, these are for badgers so they can get into and out of the enclosure, which I think is a really neat idea. Poppy often watches tele with me while Ted snoozes! xx

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  9. I love those photos of your little fat tummies exhausted pooches!! I do love the trees but I am much more at home on the coast. I like to see the sky and can feel a little close in in the woods!

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    1. I don't think I could live in a wood for exactly the reason you say- I like to see the sky too. I have to be careful of the sea- it has given me migraines in the past if I go on a powerful stormy day (although I do love the sea when its wild). Hope you have a calmer work day today :o)

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  10. Delighted to have just found your blog - and enjoyed 'looking closer' with you in the wood.

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    1. Many thanks Jennifer- glad you enjoyed it :o)

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  11. You sound at one with nature CT. Great pics.

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    1. It was a lovely day and those old trees were something special.

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  12. You know I actually started singing your opening line on your post. This was a lovely trip to the woods - a nice productive day out, and learning things I did not know. The moss on the big tree is most striking. Very nice, most informative post and a sigh with the puppies at the end. Thank you

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    1. I've had the song in my head ever since I wrote the post :o) I'm glad you enjoyed the woods and the doggy people :o)

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  13. I remember when I used to live in the heart I had to escape to somewhere with grass and trees just to keep myself sane (ok sane - ish) I do feel at peace in woodlands.

    Gorgeous pictures as always and love the snoozers by the fire x

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    1. You can't beat nature for peace and grounding :o) xx

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  14. I'm so glad you speak the woodland language and can translate for us. I would miss an awful lot otherwise.

    Jean
    x

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  15. Pops is nearly as big as Ted CT!

    Lovely woodland shots, especially that snail. I've never noticed one before but will be on the lookout now. xx

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    1. I think the angle they were lying is misleading Em- she is still tiny wee. Can I be a pain and email you some more pics of her soon and you can tell me if you think any feel right? V conscious I don't want to keep sending you duffs but think I may have a few better ones now xx

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  16. Lovely post and photos especially enjoyed the fungi. Its amazing the wildlife you can find, even at this time of the year, if you really look :)

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    1. Many thanks :o) Reassuring how much life goes on right under our noses in winter :o)

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  17. Envious of the lovely and interesting 'shrooms that you have found! And the doggie photos in front of the fire are so cute. It reminds me of my cats who are in winter mode and spend most of their time sleeping right now - usually on me! :-)

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    1. There is life out there still (and bulbs coming through in the garden). Won't be long now till Spring. xx

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x