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Showing posts from May, 2017

Outdoor and walking therapy and the like - a 21st century phenomena

The 'rural idyl', a 'pastoral' setting, 'rus in urbe', 'an escape to the countryside', 'village bliss';illusional and nostalgic concepts maybe, and the ideas were hopelessly romanticised by artists during the 18th and 19th centuries, offering a modicom of hope to those in 'dark satanic mills', and yet it seems that in the 21st century, urban dwellers have never before met with a greater need to escape the pressures and stresses of city living, to wallow in that little parcel of "green and pleasant land", to cast aside the tumult of daily anxiety, if only for a while.

In reality of course the masses are 'permitted only' to view the great green expanse, look but don't touch, 'private', keep out, keep to the footpath, no right of way, 'beware of the bull' (there's still a sign to this effect near Bordesley Station, once a cattle station), and here I'm cynical, but thank god we have portions of li…

Ecotones and Succession = TENSION

The term 'ecotone' cropped up this week as a Tree Officer colleague and I looked at Holders Woods in an exercise to describe the woodland structure, composition and current management.
The word ecotone was coined from a combination of eco(logy) plus -tone, from the Greek tonos or tension – in other words, a place where ecologies are in tension. (Wiki)

Ecotones are generally recognised for ecological richness and a good place to observe the 'tensions' and interactions between certain animals and plants.

A woodland edge for example is often regarded as the richest part of a woodland, especially if the edge is bordered by grassland meadow or water.

The Rea Valley in this regard is a wonderful mix of urban ecosystems and ecotones, and one of my favourite locations is the developing oak woodland at the edge of Holders Woods. Undoubtedly the result of acorn planting Jays, we find oaks ranging from year 1 to year 50, but with a majority of young trees around 10-20 years, sugge…

The time of year

The Time of Year - April-May The 'finest' time of year in fact - the all too brief period from the peep of a snowdrop to the wilting of daffodils - a period of yearning for the end of winter, the slight, but significant lengthening of the day, the Blackbird's early morning regale, a tentative suggestion of comfort and warmth, although frost, wind and rain give frequent reminder of the time of year, changeable weather conditions persist.
Then we think on to the dawn chorus, the first bat night, eyes on the ground, impatiently identifying the meadow plants, inspired by the bluebell displays and talk of bees, hoverflies and the strange  territorial behaviour of our garden and woodland birds.

Springing forward - May 12th - there's talk of drought, but today it rains, "much needed", the gardeners insist - It's raining in Spain too, as George and his school chums head there for a five day football feast. (I miss him already, for the routine daily process of pa…