Wildlife Diary and News Blog 2019 – notes from a small wood. 

Observations from Groves Bank, Groves Dyke and Groves Coppice, Whitby, North Yorkshire, England

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21 March 2019     Super Moon
At midnight last night the bright, bright moonlight cast deep shadows across the lawns, and this morning there was the first proper dawn chorus. It could be Spring.

20 March 2019     Spring Equinox 50/50
Bright, dry, mild and a bit sunny so today really does feel a bit like Spring. The Green Woodpecker has been calling from the wood for several days, the Roe doe was feeding around the woodyard yesterday evening, the Marsh Marigold is bursting into flower in my pond and the Bank Orchard is a magnificent show of Daffodils just now.

17 March 2019     Phil and Stu the compost twins
Our first nice day for a bit of gardening and the 2 compost bins came into their own. While Phil is filling, Stu is stewing, so when Phil is finally filled, Stu will have stewed and he can be emptied onto the veg patches, and then the lids swopped, so the new and empty Phil can be slowly filled, while the new and full Stu can slowly stew…
We forked the compost into the 3 veg beds nearest the beck and planted the Onions in the Far West one (A).

14 March 2019     Siskin returns
A single Siskin feeding on the Niger seed feeder was a welcome return for this species. Still windy but also very sunny.

13 March 2019     Storm Gareth last night
A VERY wet and windy night, with over 1.5 inches of rain since the start of this month. Luckily, the wind was from the North West so we were nice and sheltered down here. A walk around the wood was a walk on a carpet of newly-snapped twigs, but no major trees or branches came down overnight.

12 March 2019     New Whizkid sorts my elderly laptop
Thanks to CG and 2 hours of health-check today, my laptop is now sorted and is working properly’ for the first time in yonks. Redundant programs have been identified and uninstalled, viruses have been removed and everything is running SO much better than before. Unlike my local GP Health Centre, which seems to be on its last legs, under-funded and under-staffed and very, very keen for me to use their new online services for all my health needs. NEVER! If they think I would ever entrust my healthcare to all this NHS ‘high tech’ in general, and my very elderly laptop in particular, then they are very mistaken.

11 March 2019     Logging-up, then Whitby Harbour
CM spent a couple of hours chain-sawing the felled Ash for cordwood, and the leaning Willow for stove-logs stacked under cover in the woodshed. This afternoon I attended the 2nd Whitby Esk Estuary Water Quality workshop. This is funded by the Environment Agency and organised by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust – in the person of AC, daughter of RC who Anthea and I knew at the New University of Ulster Bird Club, and also spent 2.5 weeks with on an uninhabited island (Inishnabro) in The Blaskets, Co Kerry as part of a Joint Universities Seabird Expedition ‘way, ‘way back about 1970. Wow!

Great to see another generation taking the reins…

10 March 2019     More cold, wet and windy
Not a nice day to be out, so we drove to Scarborough and spent the day in the garden centres and big shed stores. Lots of walking involved, but all indoors.

05 Mar 2019     After Storm Freya
The storm itself didn’t seem so bad here (did I sleep through it?) but there have been a few windfalls. An 8-inch diameter Ash fork above the swamp split and snagged across a nearby tree. I was able to saw through the strap (see-saw!) and make it safe. Also collected lots of snapped-off long-dead Ash branches, scattered throughout the wood and sawed them into stove logs for immediate use. Then felled a 6-inch diameter Ash which had become very unbalanced and was threatening the woodyard bridge and woodshed. Another busy day.

04 Mar 2019    Willow down and out
The leaning Willow which stood in the beck beside the patio and threatened the weirs, the flume, the clothesline and the Langdale greenslate patio table, is now down safely, logged-up and carried out of the garden, into the woodyard and stacked safely in the woodshed. Busy day!

02 Mar 2019     Potting, sawing and stacking
While B replanted the patio pots at Groves Dyke, I started sawing and stacking the long-dead Apple and dodgy Willow. Then a nice stroll around the wood, returning with more long-dead Oak and Ash to saw, bag and take indoors to the stove. Breezy. Then off to Perry’s River Gardens, which reopened today for the season, to celebrate with Apricot Flapjack and Manchester Tart. The show of Daffodils in Groves Bank Orchard is absolutely magnificent just now, thanks to all the strimming last autumn by CM.

01 Mar 2019     Just Nature’s way
Since this was the warmest UK February on record, and February last year was the really cold Beast from the East, then this is just Nature’s way of telling Donald Trump that Climate Change IS real and IS happening, and we really ought to do something to slow it down a bit. But then I’ve been saying that for decades and nobody wants to actually change anything significant, so – Good Luck.

Met Records for February 2019:
A remarkably warm month, described by the Met Office as ‘The warmest Feb on record in the UK’, with 20.2 degrees C at Kew. My new digital max and min thermometer reads:
Max 16.1 degrees C, Actual 9.30am today 8.7, Min 2.2 (but occasional grass frost).

27 Feb 2019     Orchard replanted at Larpool walled garden
Together with the Endeavour Rotary Club of Whitby and the Whitby and District Development Trust, we planted 11 half-standards of traditional varieties of local Apple, Pear and Gage. Weather was perfect, warm, dry and sunny. Step 1 of a new community garden for Whitby…

24 Feb 2019     Woodyard cant almost pollarded
We worked in glorious weather to pollard (ie coppicing above deer-browsing height) the Ash and Sycamore patch (ie cant) just behind the woodyard. Lots of useful firewood stacked in cords for next winter, as well as a ‘habitat heap’ of cut Elder (useful for wildlife, drinks of Elderflower cordial and Elderberry wine – but useless as firewood).

19 Feb 2019    Super Daffs, splitting, stacking and moon
Yesterday and today have been sunny and pleasant and a joy to be out of doors. The First Dozen Daffodils are in flower, together with Snowdrops and Crocus, with the First Hazel and Willow catkins on the garden and woodland trees. CM has almost finished coppicing the self-sown Ash and Sycamore saplings in Groves Bank orchard (despite the precipitous slope) and the resulting cordwood is now moved to the woodyard and stacked. I finished splitting the windfall Ash from last autumn’s gale and it’s now safely stacked in the woodshed. What a super day – with another Super Moon due this evening (and possibly another grass frost by dawn).

17 Feb 2019     Hope, Daffs and Catkins have now sprung
Many, many thanks to GK my Whizkid, who has just solved the editing problems with this site. Woopee! No stopping me now…

07 Feb 2019 Hope Springs Eternal
There is hope that the editing problems on this elderly WordPress website may soon be solved and that the News Blog will continue with new editing software…