Millennium Wood, North Burlingham – Woodland Management (3)

Friday 15th January 2016

First blog of the year, so – Happy New Year to one & all.

Back in the day when I was but……, there was a comic musical duo (which today would be called a ‘Double Act’) called ‘Flanders & Swann’ (Michael Flanders & Donald Swann), a very clever pair who performed concerts, mostly on the stage and entertained their audience with a mixture of stories and song.  One of their most popular musical renditions in their concerts was a number called ‘The Hippopotamus Song’, which had a chorus that went:-

Mud, mud, glorious mud

Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood

So follow me, follow me, down to the hollow

And there we will wallow in glorious mud.

Today in North Burlingham’s ‘Millennium Wood’ it was a bit like that.  Not that we needed the mud of an African river to keep us cool, the weather took care of that.  Cold wind and snow showers whistled round our ears and sticky, icy mud under foot; lovely, also, the mud we did wallow in was not what I would have described as ‘glorious’. Trouble was the more we trampled the more the mud spread and every branch we picked up seemed to take perverse pleasure in painting our clothes with even more mud.  By going home time we all had mud coloured boots, trousers, coats, gloves, and hats.

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Our lovely roaring fire! Courtesy of Alan’s hard work and the pile of wood we had to burn.

There was one redeeming factor though, we had managed (despite the wet conditions) to get a roaring fire going which was burning all the trees which had been felled in the process of woodland thinning that we were undertaking. So as we stood around the fire at the end of the day, the colour of our clothes changed from ’mud’ to ‘dried mud’. Very fetching.

One surprising aspect was that nobody lost their footing to give us all a good laugh as to the state of their even muddier bottom. It would have been funny though, wouldn’t it?

Shortly after we a lunch break, a cry came up from Liz, -‘where’s Michelle, I’ve found a moth’. Michelle duly appeared with her camera and snapped a few pics. Being a bit of a mycologist she then wandered off to take a few more pics, this time of tree fungi. Some of those snaps below.

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Clockwise we have Witches’ Butter fungus (Exidia glandulosa) on Silver Birch, Amber Jelly fungus (Exidia recisa) on Goat Willow, a Pale Brindled Beauty moth (Phigalia pilosaria) checking out our fire and finally some more Amber jelly.

We did however get through a good deal of work, as could be witnessed by the ash pile that was at the centre of the fire.  The area of woodland that we have cleared during our work here over the last 18 months is showing a marked improvement. You can now walk through the cleared area, more light is getting down to ground level and I am sure that this spring/summer will see a greater variety of plants, birds and insects in this part of ‘Millennium Wood’.

I am not sure when we will be back here to carry on with the work of improving this wood, but whenever that is, I hope that there is a period of dry weather prior to our visit.

Written by Alan Rae Norwich Fringe Project volunteer