Springtime in woodland

Spring Report from Montefiore Woodland.

Unfortunately, the inclement weather resulted in some of our winter / spring work parties being cancelled. Despite this, visitors to the woodland during January and February may have enjoyed seeing the Winter Heliotrope in bloom and more recently the daffodils. Some of which were planted in memory of a member who regularly gave a generous donation when he had a small premium bond win. Thank you, Derek!

Another delight in early spring is the appearance of the primroses on a bank towards the lower end and is also peppered with forget-me-nots. It is hoped to extend along this bank further in the future.

Twenty-one Foxgloves have been planted in various areas and these will hopefully flower and seed, so look out for their blooms in the weeks to come….

The donated Bluebells from Montefiore Arms is sparse but will hopefully multiply and spread in time. The committee urge members and the local community to stick to the paths and keep dogs on leads to avoid these delicate flowers from being trampled.

The Cowslip or Queen Anne’s Lace is at its best at the moment and the entrance to the woodland from Dumpton Park Drive is looking very pretty with these delicate blooms. However, not the same can be said of the Alexander, which is highly invasive, and we aim to limit its spread as much as is possible. However, Mother Nature can have other ideas as is shown by the spread of the ground ivy which is another plant we hope to deter in time… Another reason the thinning of the trees during the autumn/winter months is important to continue to enable more light through the canopy to deter the ivy’s growth.

The saplings planted so well last year by our younger helpers from the former Whitecliffs Nursery Forest School are growing well and some are beginning to blossom, which is pleasing.

Our wildflower meadow within the clearing has its protective fence surrounding it again this year as regrettably loose dogs and footfall will so easily depress the growth of any seedlings. This area can be a sheltered suntrap and many species of insects, particularly butterflies, can be seen. Butterflies already spotted this year include: Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Small and Green-veined White, Speckled Wood and Holly Blue.

Hopefully many more will visit in the months to come especially when we hold our big butterfly count on Sunday 19th July weather permitting between 11am – 1pm (if not Sunday 26th July).

The dawn chorus is at its best at the moment and many birds can be heard. Listen out for the summer migrants: Chiffchaff, Blackcap and if you are lucky you might hear a Willow Warbler, as well as our resident birds Wren, Great and Blue-tit, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird as well as the Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers. The bird boxes within the site may be of help to the breeding birds but they also use the scrubbier areas of brambles and wood stacks.   How many species of bird can you spot near our feeders?

Our next work parties are on Sunday 31st May and 21st June weather permitting (10 –12 noon) where we will be trimming side shoots especially Sycamore, Brambles and removing Alexander and Cow Parsley from paths.

Our popular monthly Bat Walks (meet in the clearing) will continue this summer on the last Friday of the month, the first being Friday 26th June8:30pm (again weather permitting).

Finally if you haven’t visited for a while, may I suggest you do so and enjoy the peace and tranquility of this little oasis.