Tag Archives: Sherwood Forest

More Trees of Sherwood Forest

After preparing the last Sherwood post I realised I didn’t have a very good selection of trees. This was partly because I hadn’t taken enough pictures, partly because I needed to visit more trees and (to be honest) because I’ve mislaid some photos.

I can’t do much about the last point, apart from a lot of boring searching, so I short-circuited that by making another visit and taking more photos.

It was an admin day today so we’d lost the best of the light by the time we started, but there was enough to get a good selection of photos. Many of them look like they are dead, and some are, but many of them will have leaves when spring comes, despite being hollow. Hollow trees are often quite vigorous as the material from the middle rots down and feeds the remaining parts of the tree.

Smaller holes are good too – providing nest holes for various birds and roosts for bats. The population of Great Spotted Woodpeckers has increased 400% since the late 60s due to a number of factors, including more available nest sites. Nest sites are important to hole dwelling birds.  In Sweden half of their Red Listed birds are hole-nesters who are declining due to a lack of tree holes. Meanwhile, Swifts, House Martins and Sparrows are all finding it difficult in the UK as people close holes in buildings.

The Trees of Sherwood Forest

When I say “The Trees of Sherwood Forest” I really mean the ancient oaks. At the moment when people quote a figure they seem happy with the figure 997 – 450 of which are living.  About 250 of the 450 are healthy and 200 are in various states of declining health.

They say an oak spends 300 years growing, 300 years in maturity and 300 years dying, so this isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, though in 2007 they did lose seven trees – including four in one particularly blustery night.

There is a plantation in Dorset that contains 260 saplings grown from acorns of the Major Oak, but it was only planted in 2003, so they are still 287 years from maturity. I know that you have to take a long view when dealing with trees, but planting for a time 300 years from now is hard to take in.

Oaks support more species than any other tree, being host to around 350 species of insect and 30 species of lichen. The insects are food for birds: acorns feed jays, badgers, deer and squirrels (and, traditionally, pigs) and the flowers and buds are the foodplants of the caterpillars of the purple hairstreak.

Even the dead trees provide habitat for insects, plus nesting and roosting sites for birds and bats.

The most famous of the ancient oaks is the Major Oak, voted Britain’s Favourite Tree in 2002 and England’s Tree of the Year in 2014. It is something of a celebrity and will always be associated with Robin Hood. The story that he hid inside it is unlikely – at an estimated age of 800 – 1,000 years it was, at best, a young tree in Robin Hood’s time, and possibly just an acorn. Such are legends…

Here is a link to a site detailing some of the other famous oaks of Sherwood.

 

 

 

More Birds – Screveton and Sherwood Forest

Here are photographs of more birds from last Wednesday, following up on the previous bird post and the Friday post.

The Goldfinches are acting like a bunch of thugs, quarrelling amongst themselves and driving other birds away. You wouldn’t think it to look at them, but they really can be very aggressive.

We had a flock of Long-tailed tits look in, but they perched in the surrounding trees calling to each other before deciding not to contest the feeders with the Goldfinches. We really need fat balls to tempt them, but after the Jackdaw [roblems earlier in the year I don’t really want to use fat balls again. I may try coconut halves filled with fat as they seemed to work well when we saw them at Sherwood Forest last Friday.

We have moved the second feeder from the back garden to see if we can ease the thuggery by spreading the birds out more. It has never been well used, even though it is situated close to a belt of trees that attracts quite a lot of birds. The ones that use the feeders tend to fly out of the trees and pass it on the way to the other feeder.

Birds can be very strange.

So far, after one day, very few birds have chosen to use the new feeding station, despite it only being five yards from the other.

It’s a tricky situation because we will have to stop feeding the birds at the end of the month when we leave the centre. We haven’t really started feeding properly since we let it tail off in late summer. They have had plenty of food in the fields and some of the food in the feeders had actually gone off because birds had stopped visiting.

I rushed into it last week, cleaning the feeders with a piece of stick and using food that had been stored in a bin for the last few months.  The bin had been chewed by mice and I had to evict several before I could get the food, which smelt very mousy. I’m not sure if this has a bearing on the lack of enthusiasm for some of the feeders.

We will wash the feeders on Monday and refill everything with freshly purchased food. I know I found the smell off-putting and I wouldn’t blame the birds for feeling the same way.

We will feed until we leave and will leave the remains of the food and ask the farm to feed after we have gone. It’s not ideal but it’s the best we can do. Meanwhile the group can continue to watch birds until we finish.

Practical note here – cheap plastic feeders buckle when subjected to boiling water. It may seem hygenic, but it’s annoying to hqve to buy new feeders so be careful. I’m going to use Milton. It works for babies, lambs and apple pressing so it whould work for bird feeders.

The following photographs were some we took in Sherwood Forest on Friday. I’m quite pleased with the shot of the acrobatic Robin eating from the coconut shell and the Nuthatch. I’d hoped we would see a Nuthatch and we did see several in the end, though they are difficult to photograph. Julia managed to get the best shots, much to my frustration. Most of mine looked like blue blurs.

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Coal Tit – Sherwood Forest

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Acrobatic Robin eating from coconut shell

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Great Tit feeding from coconut shell

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Nuthatch – Sherwood Forest

My Favourite Friday

 

On Friday we planned to visit Sherwood Forest, photograph the oak trees and look for Robin Hood.

Sorry, I’m a bit late wth this – it’s so late on Saturday that it’s almost Sunday.

So much for my good intentions about being more organised and reliable. (And that’s before I reveal that I left my spare batteries at home and had to use the back-up camera).

The plan was that we would get up early and make the best of the light, but their was no light, just a foggy murkiness. So we went back to sleep for another hour. By that time the light was a bit better so we set off for Sherwood Forest. It’s not quite as big as it once was. At one time it covered 115,000 acres: now the country park manages just 450 acres. Royal Forests once covered a third of southern England, including 100% of the counties of Essex and Huntingdonshire.

Fortunately a Royal Forest wasn’t full of trees, which would have made it very awkward for living and farming, they were just areas where Forest Laws took precedence over normal laws. This made life difficult, but still allowed for fields, grazing, marshes and other land without trees.

Anyway, in today’s country park there are around 1,000 ancient oaks, all looking to be on their last legs. Despite this they keep coming back year after year.  The most famous is the Major Oak, around 800 – 1,000 years old and held up by a cradle of wood and iron. It was supposedly a hideout used by Robin Hood, but if it’s only 800 years old it would have only been an acorn at the time.

This is just a selection of photos – as usual  have managed to take too many!