Sunday, 17 April 2011
A good thing just got better
Park Wood near Challock has long been one of my favourite places, a peaceful wood with a the sound of buzzards overhead, marsh tits calling, goldcrests singing and occasionally a glimpse of a lesser spotted woodpecker. There's a variety of timber - coppiced woods to the left and yew trees on the right. Now the Woodland Trust has cut the middle area of recent growth, leaving a lovely sunny expanse of primroses, with orange tips and brimstones flitting over the piles of logs. There will surely be an increase in orchid numbers, and an improved habitat for Duke of Burgundy butterflies which were seen here last year. A line of gnarled hornbeam pollards marks an old ditch on the boundary of the wood in earlier times, giving protection from grazing deer. When I moved on to Denge Wood, I saw another line of these trees, not obviously on a ditch line but again probably used to define a boundary. The hornbeam leaf is similar to that of the beech, but the distinctive bark and catkins easily identify it. Anyway, the main reason for going to Denge Wood was to see if the continuing warm sunshine had brought out the Duke of Burgundies early. And hurrah it has. One, at least. Coincidentally (although on reflection the chances were quite high) I ran into the DoB survey team and the butterfly they found was considerate enough to stay still for long enough for all to get their photos. The group is a lovely bunch of people, who really know their subject and are good company (it helps that the sun's usually shining when they go out, I suppose). The surrounding song of willow warblers was an added bonus. Wild cherry trees have been left standing in an area of coppice, and look stunning in the bright sunlight. I noticed some wood ants climbing one of the trees...... .... so decided to follow them to the treetop to see what they were doing, and found that they were feeding on the flowers ..... ....[OK I didn't climb up, there was a small tree further on]. A beautiful day, with lots to see and pleasant company. It just got better and better. Especially when the ice-cream van was heard, playing its "Greensleeves" tune - the best sound in the world.