Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Old Man's Beard

The fluffy seeds of the Wild Clematis show why it is also called Old Man's Beard.
Draped on bushes and trees it makes a pleasant substitute for blossom at this time of year.

2013 is now the old man and soon to pass away.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Stream flooding

This section of the track gets flooded after heavy rain.  It's because the culvert pipe under the track gets blocked with leaves and debris.  Then all the silt carried down by the stream piles up and we effectively hava a dam.
You can see in the picture above that nothing is coming through the pipe.  The water is just flowing over the track.

After a bit of poking with a long stick to release the blockage, the water gets through again and the flood level drops on the track.

 So if you are passing after heavy rain, and you see the water level rising . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Culvert blocked with debris
Grab a long pole and try to poke it clear.  This would be really helpful.  I have left one pole by the willow tree on the left of picture 1-5 above, and another in front of the new tool store.
Unblocked again - but see the puddles on the track

It's quite satisfying when it gurgles and the water level goes down in a vortex like the water in your bath.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Chips to go with our stakes

Apologies if you have tried to walk up the tree covered tunnel path from post 11 to post 19.  It is blocked with a great pile of woodchip.
Once we had finished edging the path, we needed some woodchip to level it off. 
Paul from the Mundy Playing Fields supplied us with three large trailer-loads which we shall spread to produce a much easier slope to climb, from post 1 up to post 9..

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Using our coppiced material

Having started coppicing some of the hazel at Filnore Woods, we began sorting it for different uses.  The larger poles were used for edging paths where the camber needed correcting.

Here's Eric surveying his handiwork. 
And the short thin bits were used to make stakes to hold the poles in place..

Here's Derek sharpening stakes.
And Will, drilling and nailing the poles to the stakes.
Any poles that were not too thick and fairly straight were saved as beansticks for next spring.

And the lumpy bits were given to the Compost Boys for them to sell as firewood.  Filnore Friends are extremely grateful to the Compost Boys for donating £250 to us from their sales of compost and firewood.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Twit of the day

Somewhat appalled to hear David Attenborough saying on the 'Today' programme this morning that one bird he could recognise by its song was the one that was supposed to say, "a little bit of bread and no cheese."  He said it was the chaffinch whereas it is usually taken to be the yellowhammer.
                                                     Chaffinch                                           Yellowhammer (Andy Bright on Bird Forum)

Even more appalled that listeners phoned in and suggested it might be the chifchaff !!   Can't expect the troglodyte programme presenters to know about birdsong but these listeners and Attenboroughs are supposedly experts.

Listen to the songs of chiffchaff and chaffinch on Brett Westwood's birdsong recordings on

 or all three on the rspb website at

Trees from a distance

Up near post 4 you can easily distinguish between the rounded oaks, covered in orange leaves and the tall upright stems of Aspen trees
Looking downhill from post 3, recognise the Hazel on the right here, because it has so many stems growing from the same root.

And in the picture below, looking from post 2 towards post 1, we feature the Ash.  To left and right you can see ash keys (the seeds hanging at the ends of the twigs), and those two big, bare trees with ivy on the trunks and lower branches, at the end of the path, are also ash.

Here are the same two ash trees viewed from the allotment field.

Where the branches are within reach you can be certain to identify the Common Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) correctly in winter because of the black buds.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Tool store

Located by Mike of Alan Coward Transport at Avonmouth, we now have our lockable tool store.  Standing forlornly amongst all the other, larger containers, we could see she needed re-homing. 

She is rather a startling white at the moment.  Suggestions for a less obtrusive appearance are welcome from all and sundry.  Email your ideas to filnorefriends@gmail.com 

Inside there is already some shelving in place.
Unfortunately the ground was too soft for the truck which brought her, so she was left just inside the field gate.  But thanks to Willy Grey and his John Deere tractor, Connie the container is now happily at her country seat.  It was touch and go getting her through between the ash trees, as Willy could not see where he was going with the container carried in front of the tractor.  We'll be showing the video at our AGM in April.  Don't miss it.
She is already useful as a store for our tools, which are now locked securely away.  We have also stored some beansticks inside in the dry, which we have harvested ready for the spring.


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Long-tailed tits

These little balls of pinky-white fluff with long dark tails are constantly on the move in small family groups.
photo:    London Bird Club

You may not see them at first but you may hear their high-pitched squeaks "dibbedy-dee"   "dibbedy-dee", which they use to keep together.
They have tiny beaks, bushy black eyebrows and 'peppercorn eyes'.
photo:  Roger Wyatt, Oxfordshire Bird Log
We know that they nest at Filnore Woods because we found a nest in the brambles.  See the post for 29th March 2012.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Young enterprise

In a community woodland, a variety of activities take place. 
I wonder whether this sudden crop of pallets and padded seats is for a housebuilding exercise or a bonfire.
As long it doesn't harm the tree or spoil other people's enjoyment of the woods, let's see what happens.  It must have taken some effort to get these materials here.
Does anyone know what is going on?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Spindle tree

Here's another berry spotted today in Filnore Woods.

The Spindle Tree produces coral-pink berries divided into four quarters.  When the berry splits open, the bright orange seeds hidden inside can fall out.
Spindle twigs are four-cornered, square in section, and very straight.  This made them good for skewers and for spindles for hand spinning.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Filnore Woods time - nature's clocks

A memory of last summer and a foretaste of next spring
One o'clock, 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock . . . . . . dandelion clocks are a good way of calculating the time.  You can decide what time it is for yourself by how hard you blow.
And away go the tiny seeds on a downy parachute.  Several flowers per plant and hundreds of seeds make it a wild flower which is very successful at spreading  ---  or a weed as we often call successful and common plants!  

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Visitors from the north

Fieldfares have now been recorded again at Filnore Woods. 
 I last mentioned them in my post for November 5th last year.  You may have heard the "chack, chack" squawks of them in your garden if you have left fallen apples on the ground.  They come to us every winter from Scandinavia and northern Europe. 
Fieldfares are large grey thrushes with long tails and they will sometimes be  feasting in flocks on berries, in the company of the smaller and slightly shyer Redwings, another Scandinavian thrush species, which, as you may have guessed, have reddish-brown patches on their flanks and under their wings . 

I often think Fieldfares look rather more severe than redwings.  It must be that dark patch around the eye.  Redwings have a white eyebrow stripe and another stripe across the cheek.
To hear their calls listen on 'Brett Westwood's Birdsong Recordings'.  There is a link on the right of the blog page, below the blog archive,  headed <Helpful links>.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

November stroll

I took a few pics on my stroll round Filnore Woods.  Even on a dull day there is colour in the woods and fields.  As the leaves die they in turn will feed the growth of next spring.  Living and dying goes on all through the year, each dependent on the other.
Although it can overwhelm other plants, bracken brings an attactive splash of colour right through the winter.
Dogwood leaves are still painting the woodland edge.
Guelder Rose shines with both golden leaves and scarlet berries.

Rosehips glow like scarlet jewels.

Do you see a white patch along the path?

Somebody killed a pigeon here.  If it was a fox, the feathers would have been bitten off but it looks to me as though the feathers were pulled out.  This would suggest a bird of prey made the kill.
 There are still flowers to be found.  This pignut flower I found the other day usually shows between May and July.  But like the buttercup I found recently (29th Oct), it's having a late flowering.
And here is a mystery.  We haven't planted any horse chestnut trees and there aren't any nearby.  So who planted a conker here?  Was it a squirrel?  or a jay?  or a human?