Monday, 31 October 2011

Colourful Autumn

Some colourful seasonal photos to brighten an already warm and sunny day!

A bright orange cup fungus

The trees and shrubs in the Victorian shrubbery are showing beautiful
autumn colour just now.  But we've already started the mammoth task
of leaf clearing, so that will keep us busy for the next few weeks!

Violet coral fungus growing on the avenue bank

A peacock butterfly enjoying the warm autumn sunshine. 
Sedum, also known as ice plant, is a great source of nectar for late butterflies. 

Friday, 28 October 2011

Conservation Volunteers 26th October

Tony at work

Of the sixteen-strong conservation team in on Wednesday, four went off to work with a visiting volunteer group removing unwanted western hemlock growth from Snipes Dene. The remaining dozen of us worked in the West Wood Clearing pulling out, digging out and cutting down vast numbers of non-native conifers which had self-seeded. The clearing - the result of conifer felling – has had some help with the planting of oak, yew, alder, ash, field maple and lime in protective plastic tubes. However, most regeneration over the last five or six years has occurred naturally with self-seeded silver birch and holly in large numbers and some shrubs including broom and bramble taking firm hold. The job itself was hard, but harder still was moving around through thick new growth over rotted brashing.

John Grundy

It was in this clearing that the volunteer Conservation Team did its first job: building a large carefully constructed log pile designed to attract and house invertebrates. It’s still looking good.
The First Log Pile was built in October 2006

Bracket Fungus

It being a Wednesday, the sun shone.

A Misty Start

A misty start to the day on Wednesday 26th October 2011.

A photographer at work.

The Avenue

Friday, 21 October 2011

Landscape Conservation Volunteers

Dave at work - coppicing

19 October 2011

Today, equipped with loppers and bow saws, the Landscape Conservation team thinned out willows and birches around the Octagon Pond and removed Turkey oaks and sycamores in order to improve the vista. Branches and tree cuttings were used to build up the nearby dead hedge. These hedges are strategically placed to prevent public access to sensitive areas around the pond and also to provide habitat and hibernation areas for wildlife. We had our coffee break in bright sunshine watching a red kite being mobbed by crows. There being a dozen of us, the job was finished by lunchtime.
Coffee Break
Phil Younger with strimmer
Tony and Dave
After eating our packed lunches - in sunshine again - at the Stables, we headed off towards West Woods clearing brash from the edges of the track as we went. The silence was broken by the calls of a pair of buzzards high above us.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Autumn butterflies

It's a cold day, but there are still butterflies flying and feeding on ivy flowers when the sun comes out.  These two red admirals blend in well with the ivy and the hawthorn berries. 

Red admirals feeding on ivy

Ivy is a good source of nectar for butterflies that have a late flight season like these red admirals.  They will feed on other late flowering plants, like Michaelmas daisies, but they also drink the sugary liquid from fallen apples and fruit that is left to rot.  If you have a fruit tree in your garden, try leaving some of the fallen fruit for autumn butterflies, wasps and birds to feed on.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Swallow sculptures

This swallow sculpture is one of a pair created by Eleanor Thomson, a local young artist.  She made them for our wildlife room in Gibside's stables, where the swallows nested among the beams during the summer.  The swallows have all left now, so the two wire sculptures are a reminder of our summer visitors.