Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Ancient and veteran tree training: 12-10-2018

Another tree related week - 

but far easier on the legs!!

A day of training was the name of the game for the NCVs this week - and some unusual training too. We were being expertly versed in the art of identifying ancient and veteran trees by trainer Alan Hunton, who volunteers with the Woodland Trust.

After some time in the council chambers in Pateley Bridge everyone then moved on to the new Summerbridge nature reserve to put our new skills to the test. We were looking for appropriate trees to add to the ATI (that's the Ancient Tree Inventory if you haven't already guessed.)

Alan explained why some of the trees we pointed out as possible candidates were not worth recording. He was very picky!! This could be due to the fact that for every tree recorded in the Woodland Trust online register a handful of 'verifiers' like him need then to visit the tree to check it actually is worthy of recording.

 We did manage to find some that he felt were appropriate to be named ''veteran' or 'ancient', like this coppiced holly.

 This downy birch was also given the Alan Hunton seal of approval.
It was more of a spiral of hollowness.

This specimen was an obvious candidate as it exceeded the 3.5m limit on girth.
We're talking about the beech tree here and not the NCV behind it!!

Everyone was on the lookout armed with the tools of the trade, 
namely a tape measure, a GPS and....

.... a clipboard holding the all important recording forms.

In spite of the burr sticking out the side of this tree, apparently it was not worth recording.
Andy gave it a conciliatory pat on the nose in case its feelings were hurt.

Tree girth had to be measured at a height of 1.5m unless it was like this one with more than one stem. That's when you had to get lower down and risk spoiling your hair do.
Perhaps this is why Alan came in a hat?

Folks were inclined to respectfully bow their heads at this ancient 
remaining bit that was still in leaf.

Lunch was eaten on the site of the 
demolished pheasant pen in West Wood. 

It seemed like only yesterday we were taking it to pieces -
 the last two weeks have passed in a flash!

More goodies were provided by Helen Neaves - one of the wood's owners.
This time some yummy apple flapjack. (Thanks Helen!!)

By 2:30pm we had visited all three woodland areas and each team of NCVs had recorded 3 or 4 trees that had passed the 'Alan Hunton test'. Each of these records will now be entered into the Woodland Trust's ancient tree online inventory. Anyone can see this for themselves via the following website:

The training materials used this week can be accessed from HERE.

Thanks go to Alan for an excellent training session (and for curbing our enthusiasm which had us ready to record anything that was bigger than a sapling!!) 

Other recent NCV endeavours.....

Jan, the handyman, spent time recently making a wooden box (on the fourth shelf up in the picture below) and rack to store all the pieces of our 6 scythes.

Cutting edge design 
(Copyright joke from Tony)

On Wednesday and Thursday of last week Jan, Tony and Ian made no fewer than 40 nest boxes - all to be passed on to the Neaves at the new Summerbridge nature reserve. These are to be erected in the middle of November.

Well done chaps - the bird population will be very happy!!

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Scar House Reservoir: 09-10-2018

Can't stop - trees to check!

This week the NCVs were up at Scar House Reservoir to carry out a tree check in 5 plots , planted by the UNLP project as part of the scheme to plant 7,000 trees. They needed to make sure that:
  1. tree tubes were secure for the coming winter
  2. any young trees that looked dead after this summer's drought were marked for checking again in the spring, in case they needed replacing.

The weekly task alert email said that "This venue will involve some climbs in places for those feeling energetic." As you can see from the map below this was not an understatement. 

A bird's eye view of this week's task area.

The five patches of woodland (shown in green) were all far distances apart too - and yet the email went on to say that  "If we finish these there are another 4 further down the dale to check." 

Hmmm. OK. Let's see how we get on with the first five plots shall we?

The troops gather at Angram dam..

The top of the first plantation.
Easy! All the tubes well exposed.
Problem was.....

... the ground was a bit on the steep side....

...with a long way to go down to the bottom!

The shelter gave some respite from the wind at coffee time.

Once at the bottom of the hill it was across 
and up the other side to the second plot....

...up being the operative word.

At least the tubes were easy to see again.

The pre-lunch patch (marked 3 on the map) consisted of ups and downs.
The NCVs pressed on.

At lunchtime it was clear that the undergrowth was starting to become an issue.

Andy brought some wonderful cake which he had baked himself.
He declined to say which birthday he is about to celebrate..
Thanks Andy!!

The final challenge was to find plot 5 and then 
wade through the waist high bracken to reach it.
Thank goodness for the energy provided by the cake!

The tubes were NOT so easy to see now.
Everyone was starting to really feel the strain.

Osian commented: "A beautiful day,in spite of the wind, but to say the terrain was steep in places was an understatement of epic proportions."

It was clear that the final plot, up Dead Man's Hill, (marked 4 on the map) was going to have to wait for another day. And as for those other four areas further down the valley - NO CHANCE!!!!

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Ell Knowle Wood and West Wood, Summerbridge: 02-10-2018

Breaking News!!

New Nature Reserve for Summerbridge
gets some superhuman NCV help.

Yes - you heard it here first. Summerbridge is to have its own nature reserve - all thanks to landowners Helen and Chris Neave. You can read more about the work this couple are doing for the environment via their website - Make it Wild.

To achieve their goal they first needed to rid their woodland areas of unwanted pheasant pens and assorted metalwork. There was all sorts of things that needed shifting - as you can see below....

 In West Wood...
...and in Elle Knowle Wood

Luckily for the Neaves a certain group of NCVs had heard about their plight. Any normal individual, taking a look at the job, would have turned pale and quietly slunk away, mumbling something about an unexpected medical appointment. But the NCVs are not normal individuals. 

They zoomed into action (having first popped into a nearby telephone booth to change into more appropriate, NAONB branded garb for the occasion. Well - you wouldn't want them to get their capes dirty or their tights laddered would you?)

This group of super heroes used their super whizzy 
tele-transporter to get them to the site.

And they're off!
The pen in West Wood was the first on the agenda.

 Newly recruited super hero, Bendy Man, (Steve) dug out posts.

 Muscle Man (Andy) tore down wire netting.

Mattock Man (David) pulled up corrugated iron sheets.

Hammer Woman (Julia) destroyed this structure 
in no time - with the help of The Avenger (Ken).

Getting the resulting spiral of iron into transportable form 
turned out to be beyond even super human powers.

Straighter pieces could be broken up but often took
 a long time and much opening and closing.

Wire Roller Man (Dave) and String Deployer Woman (Ruth) shifted 
rolls of unwanted metal work in double quick time.
It was breathtaking to watch them.

By coffee time the West Wood pen was just a memory...

...and a heap of rubbish on the other side of the wall.

Legless Man (Tony) and The Mighty Turban (Paul)
then took some time out to allow their super powers to rejuvenate.

Luckily Hammer Woman had made a chocolate and beetroot cake 
to help the super hero gang build up their strength.
Not a bad way to eat one of your '5 a day'.
(Thanks Hammer Woman.)

Then it was over the field to Ell Knowle Wood 
to see what else needed removing.

Bendy Man shared some of his powers with the other super heroes.

More and more sheets of corrugated iron got added to the pile.

More and more lengths of wire were rolled up and flattened. 

And then - it was all over.

Well - almost. Now it was just a little matter of getting 
the two different heaps of rubbish down to the main gate.

But - first things first. Lunch!
These two super heroes used their bionic eyes to direct laser beams at two old wheelbarrows. Within seconds they had some classy garden furniture to sit on.

 Some after lunch fun was had with two bubble wands, 
found in the back of Super Hero Liz's land rover.

Wow - who needs a wand when you have a
 bubble producing finger like Hammer Woman?

 Then all that remained to be done was to load up the 
super trailer three times to transport the waiting debris.

Thanks super heroes.
You saved the day.