What a busy month it’s been…
There’s been so much activity in Northwood I’ve barely had a moment to sit down in the office and update you all about it.
Over the course of 4 days (and several minibus trips) we’ve had the entire Year 3 and Year 4 of Yapton Primary School (about 90 pupils) out planting two new tree clumps in our War Ag. 3 and 4 fields. This makes a total for 4 clumps in these fields now, each consisting of 200-250 trees. Once these pockets of woodland start growing, they will play an important role in the movement of wildlife, acting as natural stepping stones and wildlife corridors from one wooded area to another.
In the short time they had, Yapton Primary worked their socks off and planted a total of 450 trees including species such as oak, beech, field maple and whitebeam. I was also blown away by their knowledge of nature and woodlands – well done guys.
We also had the pleasure of seeing RSPB Pagham Seals again for their annual trip to Northwood. This year they wanted to get stuck into some practical work to help the project and boy did they get stuck in! In just one afternoon we managed to coppice 40 meters of hedgerow and then lay the brash over the top like dead hedging to limit the browsing of new shoots by deer. Coppicing involves rejuvenating hedging by cutting it down near to ground level, encouraging vigorous regrowth and the return of a thicker and healthier hedgerow. Thanks to the group/leaders and to their parents/carers for joining in too.
The Archives Team from West Sussex Records Office joined us for a morning of tree planting over in the War Ag. 3 fields. This was a particularly special day as the team wanted to plant up an area in memory of a close friend and colleague who had recently passed away. I learnt that this friend was fond of nature and the outdoors so this session was especially fitting. The sun even came out for us and I saw my first honey bee of the year. Over 70 trees were planted, mostly beech and I look forward to seeing the team again later this year for a spot of after tree care.
And finally, we have several wooden tree guard to construct this year for our wood pasture area in War Ag 1. 14 already stand tall from last year’s hard work but 16 more need to go in this year. To kick start this year’s challenge we held a South Downs National Trust Ranger Day where Rangers and Volunteers from different sites came down to help us. We had Woolbeding, Black Down and Birling Gap make it over and together we constructed 6 guards. There was also a BBQ lunch midway just to keep everyone’s strength up! Thanks to all the teams for giving their time to the project and for helping us get closer to our year total.
This weekend I had the pleasure of taking the RSPB Pagham Seals kids group out for a walk around Northwood. Along the way they found out more about the project and its history but also learned to identify a variety of trees from their leaves and in some cases, just the shape of their twigs. The species we looked at were: oak, hazel, sycamore, common ash, holly, beech, field maple, blackthorn, hawthorn and elder. The Seals were very quick to learn especially as they already had a good knowledge of the environment (I was very impressed). By the end of the walk they could even identify the very young saplings we’d recently planted.
We also spotted violets, cowslips and King Alfred’s cakes, but the star of the show was a weasel! We lifted up a reptile tin expecting to see a slow worm when a weasel was looking straight up at us. I don’t know who was the most surprised!
Throughout the walk we had glorious sunshine although we did have a nasty looking cloud following us around the whole time. It wasn’t until we were about a hundred meters from the car park though that the skies opened and boy did they open! Part rain, part sleets, we all said our goodbyes in record speed and ran back to our cars. Perfect timing!
Thanks to George and Pip from RSPB for the great photos.