Hungry?

Now is not a time of year to find yourself going hungry whilst outside, so here is a quick look at what the woods team have been eating and keeping an eye out for and where.

First up, the staple of our outdoor diet currently, the blackberry.  Cursed all year for its thorns, now it is giving up it fruit.  We have mostly been working on our Monmouthshire sites where there is a great abundance of blackberries.  Up at Coed y Bwnydd, despite cutting back a lot of the vegetation, there are still plenty to be found at the boundaries and now we have cut the ramparts, you can walk their bases and get to the blackberries on the banks.  We are also finding a fairly plentiful supply on the paths around Clytha and over on the Skirrid.

Lots of big juicy ones this year.

Lots of big juicy ones this year.

We have seen a few plums and damsons on our travels, dropping their fruit and have been keeping an eye out for sloes, just out of the woods, through the wall and on to the hill at Skirrid is normally good.

Earlier in the year we found a good number of bilberry on the Sugarloaf and in some of its woodlands, but they are less plentiful now.

Bilberries earlier this year.

Bilberries earlier this year.

Keeping an eye on the hedgerows is a desperate race to beat the squirrels to the hazel to claim its nuts.  A common hedgerow tree, it can be found most places, but Coed Carno in the Upper Tarell Valley is our go to place.

This is also a time of year we start looking for fungus, initially to inspect the health of trees that we look after.  As they fruit they can confirm concerns we may have for a tree or reveal the start of an ongoing process of decay.  Whilst some are edible (such as the field mushrooms we found on the lawn at Berrington on a staff day out), others are very much not.  Later this year, we are running a fungi foray with the help of local experts and our volunteers on the Skirrid, more details here.  Incidentally, we also spotted this Shaggy Parasol up there today.

Shaggy Parasols, spotted today.

Shaggy Parasols, spotted today.

So there is some inspiration.  Only eat what you are confident is safe to do so, there are plenty of guides available (I quite like Food for Free by Richard Mabey) or join us on our Fungi Foray.
Don’t forget, if you are doing the 50 things challenge, blackberry picking is one of the challenges and possibly the tastiest to complete.

Stuffed full of blackberries,
Tim –Woodland Ranger

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F, F, F, F, F…

Nothing obscene, just lots of things beginning with F for this update.

Blackberries

As you will have gathered in the last update from the woods, summer is fencing time.  Our fencing plans have extended to Pont-ar-Daf and Storey Arms.  Not an act of keeping people out the woods, but more to keep out the number of sheep that seem to be roaming along the main road and being drawn towards all the trees we planted last winter.  The sweet buds of the young trees seem irresistible to the sheep, so out they must go if the trees are to get a chance to grow.

Getting stuck in with the fencing is our new full time volunteer in the woods.  Kate joined us at the start of September as an apprentice and is studying with Herefordshire College of Technology once a week whilst getting on the ground experience with us.

The start of school terms has also seen us deliver a couple of new forest school log circles to schools in the Forest Education Initiative cluster groups that we work in.

Fire.  Yes, more fire.  As we write this, we are about to go burning with another working holiday.  This time making way for the fence line that will be keeping the sheep out of Pont-ar-Daf.

With all this out the way we will push on with our felling over the winter.  This winter we plan to finish our access track through Pont-ar-Daf.

Finally, go foraging, food for free.  There is loads of fruit out there this year, probably the rewards of a warm and wet summer.  The established forest tracks are prime for blackberry picking (#21 of your 50 things).  The hedgerows are good for sloes too.  It also looks like a good seed year for the trees, so we will be out and about collecting acorns and ash keys.

Feasting on blackberries,
The woods team.