Category Archives: Nature conservation

Trackatree Wood anemones chart 4 April 2017

The Wood anemones in Hillhouse wood vary markedly in when they flower, according to my TrackaTree data

I my last post I explained how I decided to chart the data I’ve been collecting for the TrackaTree phenology project, so see if it has any interesting stories to tell. I wanted to look at the variation within the same species between the years, and also to see there was any variation in the relative timing of the different species between years.  Continue reading

165 Bluebell cropped

In which I decide to see if the data I’ve been collecting for the TrackaTree phenology project actually tells us anything

The thought recently struck me that the data I’ve been collecting in Hillhouse Wood for the TrackaTree phenology project might enable me to look for any noteworthy differences between years. (Phenology is the study of how the timings of the seasons are affected by variations in weather.  Continue reading

Both budburst and the first Chiffchaff in Hillhouse wood – Spring in getting into its stride

Fieldwork for the Track a tree phenology project is now providing me with plenty of excuses to pay frequent visits to Hillhouse wood.  The warm weather over the last few days will drive bud burst, so I need to ensure that I don’t miss it.  On 10 March bud burst was visible on parts of my Hazel coppice, so I knew that this would progress rapidly.  Sure enough, my visit on 13 March revealed that buds were now bursting on all parts of the stool. Continue reading

‘Spring’ is off and running in Hillhouse wood, as far as the TrackaTree project is concerned

On my first Trackatree visit of 2017 to Hillhouse wood last week I reported that the leaf buds on my Hazel were already showing green through the leaf scales.  So, having had a couple of warmer days this week, I thought that there was a good chance that bud burst would have started by now.   Continue reading

Jan 2016 700

We have germination, but only for one of the four species

Richard had recommended that I hold a few seeds back, to use in germination trials.  This is arguably a posh way to describe sowing them in seed trays and seeing what happens.  Once sown, the trays were to be left outside (with covers) so that their situation broadly matched that of the seeds in the trial plots.  Continue reading

Stage 2 700

Putting in the plot marker pegs – a bit of a challenge, but we triumph in the end

I’m aware that I left you all in suspense at the end of the last post about the NRF meadow establishment trial, by mentioning that all did not go smoothly with the plot markers.  I had bought markers that had been recommended as the best by an experienced trial manager.  These are Feno Markers, supplied by M&P Survey Equipment Ltd, who had been kind enough to give us a ‘charity discount’ off the price, for which we are very grateful. Continue reading


Sowing the first seed for the Naturetale RF meadow trial – now we truly are up and running

We had intended to cultivate the appropriate plots and sow the seed in early November.  But Duncan felt that the soil at the trial site, which is very clayey, was too dry to form an acceptable tilth.  He was worried that it would remain in clods.  So we agreed to wait until some rain had fallen.  Luckily we did not have to wait for too long, and so we agreed to do it on 18 November. Continue reading

Measuring and mixing the seed for the meadow establishment trial

Potentially far more challenging than preparing the sand was splitting the four species of seed into the right amounts for each plot, and then mixing these with each other and the sand.  With 30,000 Meadow saxifrage seeds weighing a whopping 0.6 gram I was worried about a) how to measure this out appropriately, and b) avoiding a sneeze and losing the whole lot.  With our most sensitive scales weighing a minimum of 1 gram (but see later), this wouldn’t be done by weight.  It would have to be by sight.  At least the other three species would be straightforward, as each plot requires 1.5 grams, 3 grams and 5 grams respectively.

Or so I thought.  Continue reading

Marking out the Naturetale Restoration Foundation meadow trial plots – sort of

About ten days before we planned to cultivate the plots and sow the seed I met Duncan, our contractor, at the trial site to mark out the plots.  Armed with a measuring wheel, a very long tape measure, lots of stakes and a thumper, we planned our strategy.  Or, rather, Duncan did. Here he is, working out his cunning plan. Continue reading

Getting practical Part 3 – Preparing the plot marker pegs

Richard’s colleague had provided contact information of a stockist of the plot marker pegs, whose website had a lot of detail.  Their sales department was also helpful, so I was able to work out exactly what to buy.  They were a bit pricier than I had hoped, but the stockist (M & P Survey Equipment) kindly provided us with a charity discount, which helped.  Having looked in the box that arrived here, I’m hoping that Duncan and his men are good at puzzles, because it looks a bit like a Meccano set in there.  My job was to paint the numbers 1 through to 12 on the surface marker plates, so that in future years we know where each plot is.  I have used a Humbrol paint on the aluminium marker plates – at least I hope I’ve painted on the right bits. Continue reading