Apologies for this newsletter being a little later than usual but we hope you are all keeping clear of Covid and have managed to get vaccinated if you are eligible. Unfortunately the current lockdown looks like it will go on for a while longer yet which means we are still unable to recommence our conservation programme that came to an ubrupt halt in the autumn. Unfortunately, much of the work we had planned will now have to wait until the autumn but we’ll just have to wait and see how things pan out. Strange times indeed!
Until the past week, the wet winter weather continued unabated and Pondhead has been sodden and wetter than we have ever known it. The damage done to southern section of our circular trail by Forestry England operations has now been reinstated by an outside contractor who did a good job in the circumstances, given the ground conditions he had to work on. Following the work we decided to close this section of the route until it settles down and dries out. Thanks to all of you who emailed FE on this issue to ensure we got a prompt response and remedial action. Two further large trees have subsequently blown down in the gales blocking other parts of the circular trail but this time our chainsaw team cleared them without any collateral damage. They always seem to fall across the circular trail for some reason!
The chainsaw team have been meeting once a week to work on our new wet shelter which is now virtually complete. However, things are never straight forward and we have recently received a letter from Forestry England stating that we don’t have permission for the construction and suggesting that we need planning permission! At the end of the day, the shelter is a temporary structure with no foundations in the ground and no permanent fixings. It also replaced our previous shelter that had stood for over three years with no objections raised. Discussions are currently ongoing and we’ll keep you posted.
Our small woodland management team (Dave and Derek) have also been meeting once a week to undertake some essential ride maintenance and other work. During the process, we have discovered a small seasonal pond near the charcoal area. Access to the area has been improved and some clearance work has been undertaken around it to encourage wildlife.
Despite the weather there has been a noticable increase in birdsong around the woodland as they gear up for the nesting season. Recently a small flock of Redwings were spotted which we have not seen in Pondhead previously. We also noticed quite a bit of activity at one of the badger setts so we put a trail cam up overnight that captured a lot of activity which has been codensed on the following video clip. The younger family members can be seen play fighting, while others collect leaves for new bedding and one attacks the camera! Also present were three separate roe deer confirming that numbers in the inclosure are increasing.
February is a busy month for badgers. It’s the time of year that the females (sows) give birth to their cubs. The cubs are only about 12cm long and there are normally two or three in a litter. They will make their first visits to the world outside in mid to late April.
In the past couple of weeks the charcoal kiln has returned from the metal fabricators complete with new inner chamber but we are still waiting on one part before we can do a trial burn. As soon as it’s permissable we’ll get our sawing tasks going again as we usually commence charcoal making in mid March. There has been a little demand for charcoal over the winter but we still have quite a bit of stock on hand to kickstart the new season.
Finally, things have started to move on the new Limewood sewer which, as mentioned previously, is to be routed through Pondhead under the gravel track that leads from the rear of Limewood to Beechen Lane. Some investigative work is currently taking place and the main work should commence sometime between mid May and the end of July. We have had meetings and discussuions with the Project Manager who is keen to work with us and is looking at ways that our project will benefit.
Stay safe everyone and we hope that we will start being able to meet up again before too long.