February 2006

My reports will not be as frequent as they formerly were, I have discovered. There will not now be huge changes as whole fields are given over to tree planting. Small changes of course will happen and I will be writing about those and the species that are noted to live in Gimswood.

Much of the winter has been given over to two tasks. One is the farmers’ nightmare of paperwork as the SPS comes into play, along with a delay on the digital mapping as Defra try to sort out the sizing and placement of all the fields in England. Until I have the maps agreed I cannot apply for the new Environmental Stewardship Scheme even at the entry level. It will come in time, I know, but some farmers are getting really frustrated with the slowness of it all. I wonder how the powers-that-be thought it could all be done and dusted in a year???

The second winter task was more practical. Matt and I planted the spare trees we had to replace the estimated deaths that of course would occur from the new planting last winter (2004). It was, however, difficult to find enough dead plants to replace! So we had to encroach onto some of the open space and thicken up other planted areas. We are well over target for the number of trees agreed with the Forestry Commission, just in case some unforeseen deaths occur during the time of our contract.

So now is the optimistic time as we watch for signs of spring. There is a lot of bird activity and the Skylark was singing in January. Flocks of small birds fly up from the groundcover among the trees and Ladybirds hide inside the rabbit guards, keeping warm among dead leaves. Grass has gradually encroached at last into the bare ground of Big Field and the plants that grew from my wild flower seed scattering seem to be surviving so far. When I write next the weather will be much warmer!