Wild, Wet and Twig Who’s Who (Staveley Woodlands December Blog)

Wild, Wet and Twig Who’s Who (Staveley Woodlands December Blog)

© Jane Wilson

I thought I would start my recount of December with a big “Happy New Year” for 2020. I hope you all have lots of wonderful wild plans for the year ahead.

December for Staveley Woodlands was a bit wet and wild. We have had several conservation days though, braving the elements to keep the reserve ship shape and the allotment in good order.  December’s conservation day was in Craggy Wood. We collected in tree tubes from a planting project from before we managed the wood. Most were in good enough condition to be used on the allotment site but unfortunately most of the trees that they were protecting hadn’t been successful.  We are not sure when these were planted, or what species as most of the tubes were now empty and showed no signs of the trees they were once guarding so unfortunately we don’t know what caused them to not succeed. 

On a happier note, we have another 180 trees in the tree nursery, planted on a soggy day at the beginning of December.  These saplings were a lot younger than the ones we have planted previously which made for fiddly work in the damp, muddy conditions. This batch of new trees contained a good selection of species that you can find in Staveley Woodlands: small leaved lime, downy birch, bird cherry, wild cherry and alder. Hopefully they will continue growing strong, ready for their final home at Staveley Woodlands when the time comes. 


This leads me nicely on to what I have been doing with the younger generation of Staveley Woodlands visitors this month: winter tree identification.  It can be hard to learn how to identify local trees at the best of times -some are quite similar, some are rarely seen lost amongst dense woodland vegetation - but it’s hardest in winter when all the easer ID features (leaves) have fallen.

Twigs really come into their own in the winter for helping to ID trees as they are quite unique to the tree, in their shape and bud composition.  We play twig “Who’s Who” with the younger explorers, so they can match the twigs to the ID sheet while walking through the woods.  Everyone must leave the twigs attached to the tree though, that’s the first rule of the game!  


We did have a wonderful few days of warm sunshine amidst the showers though; luckily one of them fell on a day we were walling on the link land.  It was gloriously warm while we were busily rebuilding the retaining wall between the fields.  We did have to take extra care while we were working though as there were quite a few insects wintering amongst the fallen debris so we worked hard to make sure they weren’t disturbed by our job.  Walling is a lovely job to do, as you are taking part in building something that will be there for many years to come. Restoring these pinnacle parts of our Cumbrian heritage helps us keep part of our historical land use alive. 


Dry stone walling by John Edmonson

As ever we have lots going on in Staveley Woodlands over the coming months, so please keep an eye on the What’s On pages of the website for upcoming conservation days and events you can be part of.  

Until next month! 

Dannielle Chalmers
Staveley Woodlands Officer