Coppicing season has started again. This winter we are coppicing a quarter hectare on the north-east side of the wood near the path from the stream into the meadow. The public footpath will not be affected but walkers may be asked to wait a few moments when we are coppicing some of the larger trees in that area. Please take note of all signs and do not cross any barrier tape we have erected inside the wood. And please keep your dog on a lead as chainsaws are being used. Thank you.
We’ve been keeping a photo diary of Lag Wood and Pheasant Field for almost exactly five years. It includes views of the wood and meadow, and many of the flowers, insects and other creatures that inhabit this amazing part of the natural landscape. Our Flickr photostream is called “A Sussex Woodland” and can be found here. The photos work in conjunction with a species list that we can send to you if you are interested in the natural flora and fauna of Sussex. Just leave a comment on this post with your e-mail address and we will send you one.
Our brilliant volunteers from the South Downs National Park. We spent Saturday working with them coppicing two sections of blackthorn from the north margin of the meadow. It is part of our blackthorn rotation plan which allows areas of fresh blackthorn regrowth to provide habitat for the rare Brown Hairstreak butterfly (see several posts below). It also helps us to manage blackthorn encroachment in the meadow in general. We are leaving some older grows of blackthorn to provide bird habitat in spring and summer. Hopefully we will have the cuttings removed by the middle of the week. A huge thank you to Phillippa and her team, it is always a pleasure to work with you.
A belated thank you to Jane Biggs and the Hassocks Field Society for inviting us to speak last Monday. And thank you especially for the very warm welcome and appreciative comments on the talk. We are always very happy to talk to local people about wildlife and conservation in Lag Wood and Pheasant Field. We really enjoyed meeting you all. See Hassocks Field Society for more information.
This amazing contraption is a Wood Mizer mobile sawmill, designed to mill timber in situ. It is a very practical alternative to extracting large logs from awkward places. And it was a joy to watch it in action, in the hands of Will Wallace, founder of Woodlouse Industries, a small West Sussex supplier of local timber from the Weald. We cut down these three oaks in order to thin the canopy and improve woodland health in this coupe. But it is great to see local oak going to good use. And while we will never make a profit from Lag Wood, it has gone a little way towards subsidising our costs. And if anyone wants any magnificent oak floorboards, they’ll be seasoned and ready in a couple of years. See http://woodlouseindustries.co.uk/
A very big thank you to Phillippa Morrison-Price and her band of volunteers for cutting back the south margin of Pheasant Field. Managing these dense thickets of bramble is fundamental to providing habitat for nesting birds and small mammals and at the same time preventing further encroachment on the grasses and wildflowers in the main meadow. The South Downs National Park has been of immense help to us in planning for habitat and biodiversity in Lag Wood and Pheasant Field. Without the enthusiasm, guidance and practical help of rangers like Phillippa, we would not have the project we have today. We had a great day working with the volunteers on Tuesday.
This year’s coppicing has come to a somewhat spectacular end with the felling of three large Oaks in the North West corner of the wood. This is to thin the canopy where it is most dense and provide light and warmth to improve the diversity of ground flora and the prospects of younger trees (see our post of January 2nd below). It is sad in many ways to see the end of three of our old and majestic Oaks, but creating gaps in the canopy is of great benefit to the species diversity and age-structure of the wood as a whole. And it is necessary if we are to retain our younger Oaks and allow new saplings to thrive for future generations to enjoy.
Protecting this new regrowth is from browsing deer is of course vital. We will be erecting a temporary deer fence around the coupe for the next two to three years.