January 05, 2014

What is there to do... in 2014

I thought I'd start the New Year with a write up of the stroll around the pré I took last Sunday...
the intention being to see how things had done over the year.
It is difficult to take a close look when you are trying to mow paths...
you tend to be concentrating on the way ahead...
not what is beside you.

It was a good job that I had had a last chance to mow before the rains returned...
the meadow was wet!!
Really wet as it turned out...

I decided to stroll clockwise from the bridge...
this took me first past the original five pollarded willows.


The three small willows are self-seeded and will be allowed to grow on...
after all, something will have to be there to replace the old boys when they go!!

The old 'trognes' had taken a bashing in the Summer and Autumn storms...
I knew that already, having inspected the damage earlier...
one whole section had been brought down on the first tree we'd worked on...
but it is still connected to its roots and lives!
I'd been mowing around that obstacle.
That section will have the branches cut back to the trunk...
and be allowed to grow into a low willow "bush" of its own.
All the cut branches will provide firewood and woodchip.
Future growth will be harvested on a regular basis to provide rods and yet more woodchippings.

Currently supported by some of the outer branches, this will need to be "chocked up" before I cut...
else I might break the join it still has to the roots.

The middle tree had lost a large, mainly rotten chunk from one side...
as a result of the curvature, most of it sits clear of the ground.
If I can get the car jack under that, I'll raise it a few more degrees...
and put wood underneath the top end to slow the decay...
but, it will be left to decay...
it is an important habitat...
and there may be new "life" inside that rotten wood already...
life that isn't fungi, that is!!

A whole section of this trogne has broken away...

...leaving a "new" window


This is the pair of damaged trees... but, fortunately, the remaining growth is still healthy!

And talking of fungi...
as I was watching where to put my feet in the boggy ground I saw a lovely, bright scarlet fungi.
A cup fungi... half an inch across...
quite beautiful in the leaf litter from the willows.

A small cup fungus... probably Scarlet Elf Cup [Sarcoscypha coccinea]...

I carried on... following the old "chalk" road down...
past the old Alder...
towards the Aigronne...
and the ground became wetter and wetter...
then I saw the pond...

A bit to wet to walk down here...


Yes, the road had become a pond...
yet again...
for the umpteenth time in 2013!!

I will need to create a new "path" that can be used in Winter along this stretch...
I will place it on the eastern side of the chalk road...
because on that side I intend to establish a hedge/fedge of mixed willow to "fence" the old road in...
and create a hidden route that can be a "hide" to watch wildlife from...
and to provide a bit of shade out there.

So I  walked the "other side" of the "hedge" down to the river...
to find that the chalk road 'pond' was slowly draining into the Aigronne....
very slowly...

Looking back from the Aigronne... I mowed this "river" only three weeks ago!!

The Aigronne was in spate, unsurprisingly, as we'd had...
roughly three inches of rain the previous couple of days!
I turned right... along the bank of the river... toward the weir
There were few birds around...
there is too much food still available around and about ...
and the weather is staying very mild...
no need yet to crowd the valleys.

I spent my time looking for good places to put benches...
or tables with a couple of chairs.
The best way of wildlife watching is to sit....
and let the wildlife come to you.

Rosehips hanging over the Aigronne...


...and I couldn't resist a picture of this branch... still with leaves!

The areas that I hammered earlier in the year have remained pretty clear...
despite a lot of neglect since...
just a bit of tidying around the edges...
but I must stroll round with a seat...
one of our 60's McLarens would be just the ticket...
because there is a big difference in viewpoint between sitting....
and standing.
And I'll need to have a chair to hand when I start trimming back, too.
For the same reason... honest...

The cleared area under the Norway Maples is now beginning to turf up very nicely...
there is a good viewpoint up and down river here...
and across the meadow... a pair of chairs and a table just there, I think!
Close enough to the house to wander down with a coffee and the binos...
or something stronger if desired!

Knowing full well that the middle of the meadow would be as soggy as the area by the alder...

This was taken in February... Pauline and I had just seen two Wood Sandpipers take off from here!!

I made my way through a tunnel that I'd created in the Blackthorn...

Again, this was taken just after its creation in February...

this has the old forge leat running across it, but it is just a step-over..
a bit more "scrub bashing " needed here...
a lot of little thornlings had sprouted up from the cut ends...
and I now need to remove the barbed wire on the river side of the path...
and then, on the mini headland up river from the outflow...
clear a nice space to put up my "portahide"...
a lounger seat with a camouflaged canopy hide....
that you can pull over the top of the seat and the tripod.
There is a nice view into the back of the Blackthorn scrub...
as well as up and down river...
and across the fields below Le Pressoir and up to the woods below La Jarrie...
a view that is denied us from the house by the riverside growth.

Not visible from the house from Spring to leaf fall!

I continued my stroll along the bank...
noting in passing that I need to hammer the area where the river workers dragged all the brash through to our bank...
this will make a very good 'watching area'...
it has a view up river...
between two fully vegetated banks...
a very good place to see the small, shy summer species...
like Nightingales... oft heard, 'never' seen...
a bench here perhaps....

More rosehips... they are rather eyecatching in the sunlight!

I managed to follow the bank right up to the barrage [weir]...
something that is normally impossible....
especially when the nettles are at their highest!!

The river was roaring in a torrent over the weir...
the noise was tremendous...

This is the start of a two metre drop!!
 and the action of the water semi-hypnotic...

So hypnotic...

...it tries to draw you in!!
Everything slips into slow motion...



How long might the weir stay like this?!!
Last Winter it was high from the beginning of October...
to the end of May in the late Spring!

I think it would be nice to have a bench, or table and chairs here...
especially as it is a nice cool spot in the heat of Summer.
Table and chairs probably...
there are to many facets to the view here.
You need to move position...
a bench is too difficult to shift easily...

My route back took me along the bank of the bief...
I need to do quite a bit of clearance along here....
a lot of wild growth is beginning to impede both the view and the light.
Not too much clearance tho'....
there is a need to maintain a corridor for the wildlife...
just checking some of the worst bits and, perhaps...
starting a two or three year coppicing cycle on the Dogwoods...
there is more planting to be done up near the barrage...
so I'll need to keep the way clear.

I diverted momentarily towards the willows in the 'middle' section....
the Bay Willow, Purple Willow, Green Dick's and Cohu Blue...
yes, they have enjoyed the weather...
I can start extending these plantations with the material that is now established.
Back to the bank of the millstream...
and more work needed opposite the Walnut and the house.
In the past five years the Alders and Dogwoods just here have really begun to "over" establish...
and now need to be checked.

And on the subject of corridors, the run from the blackthorn to the house is shaping up nicely...
the birds either flit from tree to tree...
or fly straight along the side of the corridor.

Eight years ago none of this existed

And the big field feeder is proving a magnet for some

Plenty of cover for this feeder from the willows and the neighbouring barmbles!!

Let's hope the rain eases off soon....
as I type, the bief is up two foot and the "Lac Bezuard" has reappeared...

On my way back over the bridge, I stopped to admire the crop of mosses that has appeared over the past year....
nice lush mosses, too.

Mosses are difficult to identify... this is most likely Grimmia pulvinata... a common moss of lime mortar.



Most likely candidate here is Homalothecium sericeum... but mosses are very difficult from photographs...



Two different ones, side by side... on the left Grimmia pulvinata and probably Tortula muralis... both common on mortar.




This is certainly Tortula muralis... a very pretty and common on lime mortar.




This could be a slime fungus... or the lichen Collema crispum which is common on old mortar.
For all the above mosses and the lichen, I have gone for the most common suspect.

Some benefits to such wet weather...
I suppose!?
The willows have liked it.... well most of them!
But, with the meadow so wet for most of the year...
I have done very little other than a bit of clearing and some mowing...
let's hope this year will be more productive.




4 comments:

Susan said...

Great plans -- it sounds like it will be paradise! I'm hoping for some big impressive beetles out of those willows. Love the moss photos. I take it you know the field guide is online on the British Bryological Society's website? It's great, and what all the my French bryophile friends use.

Amelia Frenchgarden said...

I enjoyed the guided tour, perfect for a rainy Sunday morning. Your eyes were seeing all the perfect habits for birds but I think it must be a paradise for all sorts of bees too. Amelia

Tim said...

Susan,
The BBS Field Guide has been offline for some months now...
I have the basic key as a PDF...
but when I try and go to the site, I get a screen from the host server...
with a message...
"If you are the owner of this site please contact your provider"...
so I took it of the permanent tags to save space...
last time I checked, in November, it was still the same screen.

The mosses were photographed using the microscope funtion on the WG-2...
it isolated the first picture against the water very well!!

Tim said...

Amelia...
yes we have bees out there...
but I haven't yet made the space to actually go and see what we have got...
of anything!!
It is one of my New Year Resolutions...
"No.1 - Take time to relax and observe!!"
"No.2 - Spend at least one hour per week NOT WORKING in the pré!!"
After all...
this was why we bought the place.......
wasn't it?