Spring is officially upon us, although the British weather is still fluctuating between gorgeous and ‘good golly’. Moving forward, we’ve decided to look at what’s going on in our woodlands on a quarterly basis, so this week we’re covering off April, May and June.
The arrival of April means that tree planting will soon be at an end here at Certainly Wood, as the ground becomes too dry and the trees are ready to get on with the business of simply growing.
Woodland maintenance continues until mid-May, which involves spraying and weeding as well as visiting our various sites for inspection. We’ll also be reviewing our woodland management plans and looking at our work schedule for as far ahead as a decade.
It’s also time to tidy up any woodlands we have been working on throughout last year. The last of the firewood is collected, once we’ve tidied everything up and then we close the gate and let nature ‘do its thing’. The UK has strict regulations about any work being undertaken during the nesting season, which runs from March until the end of July. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 means that nests are protected by law until the fledglings have left. We’ve long since cleaned out all our bird nesting boxes ready for the new arrivals, which includes special owl boxes we’ve put up in some of our woods.
We’ll be focusing on maintaining the footpaths and any rights-of-way that cross our land, which involves cutting back undergrowth and making good any areas that have been damaged.
Firewood season is coming to a close too, but we always get a flurry or orders when a cold snap hits the UK. It’s time for us to think about campfires and BBQs as people use our logs and Flamers to create the perfect fire for outdoor cooking.
What’s with the wildlife?
April and May brings the bluebell season with them. There’s nothing more breath-taking than a woodland carpeted in blue as dappled sunlight breaks through the trees.
The early purple orchid puts in an appearance at this time of year too, and is one of the first wild orchids to bloom in the UK. Towards the end of May, flowers such as bugles, wild strawberries, herb Robert and foxgloves will start to appear too. There are joined by cowslips and wood anemones – wild garlic also abounds around now, but you’ll no doubt be able to smell it before you see it.
As May makes way for June, the leaves on the trees now form a dense canopy in the heart of the woodland and flowers such as dog rose, enchanter’s nightshade and honeysuckle thrive. June sees hedges and woodlands frothy with elderflowers – now is the time to make your own elderflower cordial.
Elderflower in bloom
As for wildlife during these three months, look out for plenty of birds returning from abroad to nest in the UK. Frogs start spawning at this time of year and on sunny days, you’ll catch sight of the pale yellow brimstone butterfly in woodlands.
With the arrival of May, you’ll notice the dawn chorus getting a lot louder with summer birds such as the nightingale, cuckoo, swifts and swallows making a welcome return. Damsel and mayflies start to emerge in May too.
Bats begin to appear in June with the arrival of warmer evenings and house martins will be flitting about to feed on the flurry of insects filling the summer skies.
There’s a lot to see over the next three months and we’d love to see any photos you’ve got of wildlife in your neck of the woods.