Land Manager's Diary: Read it here>

It has been another busy week on Friends of the Lake District’s land. Monday saw a validation visit to High Borrowdale by the Lake District National Park to check all was well with the 420m of new hedging and 2500 new plug plants. Later that day we hosted Threlkeld Brownies at Dam Mire Wood. They did some tree management work, learnt about voles (did you know the average vole weighs 30/35g…) and then had a lively easter egg hunt. We also asked their ideas for what we should add to the land… dens, a tree house and a sloth!! Meanwhile Dan has worked hard to finish the last of the fencing damaged by high flow streams at High Borrowdale. His next job working with us will be to put in a small path extension at Dam Mire Wood, hopefully before the grand opening on Friday 29th April. This is now open for bookings. You will need a book a place if you fancy willow basket making, painting with pastels, or outdoor yoga. 

We had our first workparty in over two years in our beautiful Mike’s Wood near Staveley on wed 30th. This site was bought by Friends of the Lake District in 1993 to plant up as a new native woodland to celebrate the contribution made by the then Chief Exec Mike Houston on his retirement. Mike oversaw much of the planting, and living in Staveley and then Bowston has continued to help with the wood and enjoy its development. The Wood takes its name from Mike! Soon after FLD member Ann Beddard gifted a piece of adjoining wood to FLD, Beddard’s Wood which forms a part of the whole woodland. Next door are woodlands owned by Cumbria Wildlife Trust, so when viewed from afar, we now have a stunning bank of mature native woodland covering the slopes east of Staveley. Despite some snow flurries, the wood showed lots of lovely signs of spring with primroses and daffodils in flower, catkins and green coming through on some of the trees. The bluebell leaves were coming through and the birds gave us a wonderful music concert all day long.

Two weeks ago we had tree surgeon Pete on site dealing with the aftermath of the winter storms. It seems that a wind blew through the wood in a corridor, felling trees almost on a line from the top of the wood to the bottom. Pete has left many lying where they are for deadwood when they do not cross paths, and has dealt with those that posed a safety hazard. He has even created a plucking post for visiting sparrow hawks!

Whilst we were there we came across Josh from the Westmorland Red Squirrel group who was on the look out for grey squirrels. He told us some fascinating things about how the grey squirrels behave, how many were around and told us of his secret weapon in finding them – his three legged husky dog who sniffs them out and sits at the bottom of the tree barking! The only trouble is she is colour blind so cannot differentiate between the reds and greys…… 

Once we had finished checking the storm damage, the first task of the day was to remove all the branches, dead and alive that had fallen or were growing onto the boundary walls in order to prevent further wall collapse. We have quite a few wall gaps that need fixing, but that is for another day. We then moved on to do some thinning of an area of ash. It was really sad to see so many young ash saplings which were dead with ash dieback. We had previously left them in the hope that they may develop some resistance but this seems not to be the case. Generally young trees succumb to the fungus far faster than older ones. However, on the positive side, we did create lots of piles of deadwood to form new habitat. If left to rot naturally, deadwood offers a home to many different creatures. In the UK, up to a fifth of woodland species, many of which are nationally threatened, depend on dead or dying trees. For example, of the 771 scarce woodland invertebrate species listed for the UK, one in three require deadwood habitats.

It was great to be back in the wood working with and for nature and the landscape. We will be back in the autumn to continue with some more work. Keep an eye on our website for dates.