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Is there a hint of spring in the air? We’re getting the sense the sap is starting to rise here at Certainly Wood. This week, we’re taking a peek at what’s going on in the way of woodland management in late February and early March, as well as looking at what Mother Nature is up to.

We’re planting trees and working on tree maintenance this time of year. The new woodland planting is going well because the ground has been wet enough to make digging and any lifting of the soil in our nursery beds fairly easy.

All our trees are grown in the UK and dug up on one day and planted in the new woodland either the following day or the next. All our planting is done by hand, which means there is very little soil compaction and we can secure a guard around each tree and provide a cane for support.

It's also the time to undertake woodland maintenance. We weed by hand to avoid damaging the young trees, but this also gives us the opportunity to check they’re growing straight. We also walk the woodland areas to check for any trees that have died and to maintain apical dominance – in other words, look for the trees that have the strongest shape.

If you have a look at the diagram, you’ll see what we mean by that. The tree with the open centre will provide timber of a poor quality, but also has the potential to split at the centre of the V.

At this time of year, bluebells are starting to push up through the ground along with daffodils, keen to join the ranks of the snowdrops. To avoid disturbing these springtime flowers, we often stop felling trees in our well-established woodlands. Although spring will be here soon and all the trees, big or small, will be ready to burst into life, much of the activity is still not visible to the naked eye.

 

Cuckoo pint, dog’s mercury and the leaves of wild violets can be spotted by the more hawk eyed amongst you.

Spring Usher - Agriopis leucophaearia

These early months are also a great time to catch sight of certain species of moths – find out more by reading what the Butterfly Conservation organisation has to say - http://butterfly-conservation.org/3263-5125/moths-of-the-month-january-and-february.html

Mistle Thrush

You’ll probably notice birds starting to get more vocal around the end of February too. Listen and look out for mistles, song thrushes, all the tit varieties as well as chaffinches. Badgers might make their presence felt around this time of the year with a touch of spring cleaning – they’re clearing out the old winter bedding in readiness for the arrival of their young.

Frogs also start emerging from their winter hidey holes to make their way to their breeding ground of choice. Many frogs return to the same pond or stretch of water where they were born, meaning some of them have arduous journeys ahead of them.

So, please keep your eyes peeled for any roadside signs indicating toads and frogs are likely to be crossing. Or better still, why not join your local toad patrol - http://www.froglife.org/what-we-do/toads-on-roads/tormap/