There’s always something that needs doing when it comes to Certainly Wood’s world of woodland management. This week we take a look at the tasks in hand, as well as what’s going on in the woods this month from a wildlife perspective.
This is a busy time of year when it comes to creating new woodlands or tending to young trees. We have several sites that we’ve prepared and mulched, ready for new trees to be planted or areas that have been earmarked to become woodland for the very first time.
It’s also time to weed young trees to ensure nothing hampers their growth. The thing that usually gets in the way of our work is wet weather – we need to be careful not to plough up the ground and turn it into a muddy bog, which could cause a lot of damage to other plants.
As for mature woodland, to the naked eye it can often seem like not a lot is happening in January. A number of animals are still hibernating, but you might spot the likes of grey squirrels, happily playing in the trees.
Cute they may be, but these non-native species are a real headache when it comes to woodland management. Grey squirrels regularly strip back the bark on young trees, which can cause severe damage and has the potential to kill them off completely.
There’s plenty of bird life to be seen too – fieldfares, redwings, robins and flocks of tits and finches.
At night, it's the ideal month to catch the spooky sounds of a vixen calling for a mate or the hoot of a tawny owl.
In the daytime, listen out for the tapping of the great-spotted woodpecker as it begins its attempts to attract a mate.
Pheasants and pigeons are regular visitors to the woods too. January is also a great month to spot a stunning display, or murmuration, of birds such as starlings, creating breath-taking acrobatic displays in the sky.
On closer inspection of the ground, you’ll also discover that several plants are beginning to make a timid entrance into the world.
Snowdrops should be starting to put in an appearance about now as well as the early green spears of wild daffodils.
Lesser celandine – a member of the potato family – and Hart’s Tongue Fern will also be on show, the latter with its green leaves punctuating the seemingly barren earth. Also look out for the early signs of fluffy hazel catkins busily preparing for spring.
Frosty mornings bring their own unique beauty with the wonders of still, sparkling cobwebs normally invisible, but now blatantly on show thanks to a powdery coating. We often wonder how spiders manage to catch anything at this time of year?
We’d love to see any photographs of woodlands in January you might have, so pop them over to firstname.lastname@example.org - there’ll be a bag of logs on offer for the best.