Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Woodcock a gogo

Goodness there's been a lot happening on the farm this past week. Warm weather and nights drawing out mean there's no excuse for staying indoors.
A couple of years ago I planted a whole load of conifers and firs down the land, intended as a partial windbreak and as a point of interest halfway down the land. But it didn't quite work out. The difficulty keeping the grass short has meant that the trees got lost and struggled to grow. Added to this, some of them really didn't like the exposed situation and succumbed to the winds. The soil down there is compacted and heavy too, the result of years of agricultural exploitation in the past.

The geese peruse the new planting scheme.
So I decided to take the risk and move the lot of them closer to the farmhouse where they could have more impact. I'm also acutely aware that I may at some stage lose the ash trees, so replacements need to be ready to go. Apart from willows and conifers, I'd be long gone waiting for any other tree to approach the maturity of the old ash trees.



As I trudged through the rough grass, spade in hand, what should fly out but a woodcock - a dumpy bird with a long, straight bill and almost perfect camouflage. In fact, the first one I ever saw caused me quite a shock as I almost stood on it sitting motionless in the leaf litter.
This is only my second woodcock sighting for the farm and came as quite a surprise. I guess it's a migrating bird on it's way back north, like the redwings which are feeding up on the ivy before their flight to their breeding grounds.

Back to the tree moving.
It was an easier job than I'd anticipated, mainly due to their root systems not being very extensive. As long as the rabbits don't destroy them, the evergreens should hopefully soon begin to give more year-round structure and height to the garden.
I mention the rabbits as today I discovered that the twenty four young Christmas trees which Sue planted along the dyke, with the hope that they would eventually form a windbreak, have been wantonly and destructively nibbled! It was enough to divert me from all other tasks to quickly improvise some tree protectors for them. It can be disheartening when something like this happens. Time to call in the rabbit hunter!

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