15 May 2017

Two socks are better than one

The Hem, Telford - Wednesday 10th May 2017


Get the embarrassment over with first.

I ventured out on the previous day with a couple from the group to Radnor Wood in southwest Shropshire in search of Wood white butterflies. It was a glorious day, so for the drive there I chose to wear sandals and no socks. Walking socks (so I thought) were with my walking boots in the boot of the car with the rest of my clobber for the day.

On arrival at Radnor Wood we got ready.

Only one sock had accompanied me to the site!!

What do you do in this situation? Yes I decided to wear the one sock.

But which foot do I put it on? Should I keep changing it over throughout the day? These are questions which we do not normally have to consider.

In the end I wore the sock on my right foot and my left foot was au naturelle in the boot.

For the trip to the Hem I put my walking socks on before I left the house.

The Hem is a small remnant of coppiced ancient woodland that lay unmanaged for many years until Mark Ecclestone offered to take on the site. He is now in his sixth year of a seven year coppicing cycle. This has opened up the woodland floor and the flora has flourished providing a magnificent haven between the industrial units of Halesfield and the agriculture of rural Shropshire.

We met Mark in his "workshop" which is blessed with a number of inviting benches that he has constructed. He gave us a guided tour of the site telling us about what he had done since we visited last year.

After the tour we dispersed to do what we do.

And Mark got on with some work - yes he is in the following photograph tending to his wood.

The botanists were in raptures but we entomologists struggled to find very much. This was not a fault of the wood. Insects have been very thin on the ground for a while. We blamed the continued "good weather" with its lack of rain. It is just too dry!!

I know, we are always complaining. It is either too cold, too hot, too wet or too dry. I'll let you know when the conditions are ideal.

One of the group spotted a very interesting hoverfly by the pool

But it flew away before it could be iidentified. He hung around the pool waiting for it to return.

It did.

Ninety minutes later.

But it flew off again before it could be identified.

He gave up.

We did find some things of interest. Among these were the Early bumblebee

Bombus pratorum - Photograph: David Williams
A caterpillar on a hazel leaf

Mottled umber - Photograph: David Williams
And the hoverfly Myathropa florea

Photograph: David Williams
In the meantime Mark was busy keeping his charcoal burners going. This involved rotating the chimneys through 90 degrees every half hour. (Plus a lot of preparation at the start of the burn and emptying and cleaning at the end.)

So what do you do when there is not much about?

Revel in the beauty of the site and wonder why more woods cannot be like this one.

Marsh marigold - Photograph: David Williams

Bluebells and Greater stitchwort - Photograph: David Williams
Woodruff and Archangel
What a way to spend the day.

My thanks to Mark for letting us interfere with his working day and to David Williams for sharing his photographs.

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