Monday, 19 March 2018

Marble galls on oak

Caused by a tiny gall wasp laying eggs in oak buds, these galls develop through the summer and turn brown in August when the new wasps emerge.

They are all female and fly to Turkey oaks, if they can, and lay their eggs in the buds, forming little galls like an ants' eggs.  These develop over winter and in late spring out come female AND male wasps.

After mating the males die and the females fly to native oaks and start the cycle over again by laying eggs in the buds.

Marble galls are more common on very young or stunted oaks.

This species of gall wasp, Andricus collari, arrived in Britain in the 1830s from the middle east.  Oak trees seem to cope with them quite well.

Friday, 16 March 2018

First tree off the mark

The much maligned elder is a great source of nectar for insects and berries for birds but another good thing is its optimism!  In spring it is the first tree or shrub to risk opening its buds and pushing out the new year's leaves.

There's a lot to be said for being elderly.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

No more felling in the coppice

Last Sunday was our last day of cutting in the coppice coupe for this spring.  It's bird nesting season.

We cut a lot of dogwood   

Andy with the loppers

As well as some holly, spindle, guelder rose and wayfaring tree

Frank amongst the twigs

and used most of it to construct the dead hedge round the coupe

Some of the hazel and dogwood was cut to make stakes.

Mad axeman Peter

These were sharpened

And then two parallel rows of stakes were driven into the ground 

 about half a metre apart

Chairman Eric staking his claim

Brash and other cut wood was laid between the stakes to form a sort of hedge, 
a dense habitat for small creatures.

It also clears the ground so that flowers can grow.  
We have some bluebells coming up for the first time in this part of the wood.

And it marks where we have cut, so we know for next year.

We have left two entrances so you can go into the coupe, but we still have a lot of cut wood to process so be careful.  Cut stubs in the ground are also a trip hazard.

Photos: Derek Hore

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Winter fungi

On the trunk of a fallen beech tree near post 14 we have two species of fungus fruiting.  I'm afraid I can't be sure of the darker one. 

But the paler and more numerous brackets are oyster mushroom.

And a third fungus found on dead twigs on the woodland floor is the colourful Scarlet Elf cup.  This one was just over the stream crossing between posts 20 and 11.  Nestled against the bright green of the moss it is a jolly sight in late winter.

And here's another sort of fungus doing a useful job of recycling dead wood.  It's neither a mushroom/toadstool shape, nor a bracket standing out from the wood.  When a fungus lies flat like this we say it is resupinate

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Conelets all der year round

You can recognise alder trees because the little brown conelets which held last year's seeds, stay on the tree until this year's green conelets have already formed.  So they have conelets showing all der year round.

And now, in late winter / early spring, they have catkins as well, 
which will soon be turning reddish purple.

Not to be confused with the earlier, yellow catkins of hazel.

Sunday, 4 March 2018


These are the three 'Memorial Lime Trees' up near post 3, 
commemorating three things in 2002.

They were the idea of Colin Lewis, who was Thornbury's Mayor sixteen years ago in 2002.

Lime's winter buds are often slightly red, especially in a sunny position.  They have been likened to little boxing gloves perched at each angle of the zig-zag twigs.


Friday, 2 March 2018


Once again we have been coppicing hazel.  This time at the bottom of the slope.  

As the wood is now 20 years old, planted in 1998, the hazel is quite hefty and it is more like thinning trees than simple coppicing which you would hope to do on a seven year cycle.

This produces thin poles for beansticks, thicker wood for hedging stakes and long straight poles for building steps and footpaths on site.  The thickest wood is suitable for firewood once seasoned.

This leavesa lot of twiggy brash, which we make into dead hedges to mark out the coupe (the area cut), so we know where we got up to.

The dead hedge also makes a different habitat and it leaves the floor clear so that flowering plants and tree seedlings can take advantage of the bare soil and increased light.