If You Go Down To The Woods Today ….
If you go down in the woods today
You’re sure of a big surprise
If you go down in the woods today
You’d better go in disguise!
I used to love this song as a child and l am still rather partial to it today … however yesterday’s woodlands are not a patch on today’s woodlands l feel. Today our woodlands are slowly being sold on, decimated and suffering at the hands of deforestation.
Over the weekend just gone, Suze, Scrappy and myself took a small walk into what we know here as ‘Bluebell Wood’, and why is it called that l hear you ask? For the strawberries … no of course not, for the bluebells, they are just appearing, and in another two weeks or so, the photo below will just be a sea of these beautiful flowers.
Bluebell wood is a lovely little wood, and it is little, we have a much bigger wooded area about a mile away from Bluebell wood, but as this is so near it is just beautiful to be this close.
The photos just show some of the wood itself, it has lot of trees, a fair bit of wildlife and we were delighted to see a buzzard which was quite rare as a species in that wood. I tried to get better shots but it was a tad anti-social or camera shy and only allowed me a certain distance, which l guess is fair. It too was enjoying the beautiful bank holiday Monday sun and blue skies and didn’t need some nethanderal photographer clumping around like a baby elephant below and disturbing it’s quiet time!
In many ways, this far south in Kent, we are very lucky with where we live. My village and especially this location where Suze and l live is quiet, l don’t mean just quiet, l mean deathly quiet, some nights l swear you could hear a pin drop. We don’t have a throughfare of traffic and where we are, most of the streets don’t have street lamps so the roads are quiet, unlit and very dark.
You do hear the hootings of three species of owl – these being Tawny, Barn and Little Owl, and in addition to this of a night l can hear the Foxes call and bark to each other both vixens and dogs alike, the photo below shows how close the foxes get to us around these parts. This photo was taken at the end of our garden, but it’s not uncommon for the foxes and their cubs to play in the gardens in the dusk or the dawns. They don’t feel threatened here and they are not, here on a village poll, something like 94% voted in favour for the fox, including farmers. We have badgers come through occasionally also, Suze saw one at the bottom of the road a couple of months ago, and l saw one in our garden in 2017. Some of our neighbours see them more frequently and more so if they don’t have dogs.
We have a hedgehog at the bottom of the garden living beneath the bug hotel, some frogs, the occasional newt, some slow worms and on one occasion l saw a rabbit and l was like ‘You be careful Mr Rabbit, and make sure that my Scrappy doesn’t see you or any of the neighbours cats!!”
We have a lovely selection of birds, from woodpeckers to chaffinches to robins and blackbirds and so on – we do pretty well. But then this village is pretty damn respectful towards the surroundings, that is not saying we don’t have lunatics on occasion visit – we do. We have litter louts and fire bugs. You see where l live has a huge camp for tourists in caravans and tents as well as a holiday village. We are close to the coast, within kissing distance and Kingsdown is a lovely village not far out of Deal and Dover, in fact it literally is Deal, Kingsdown, St Margarets and Dover on the coast, so we have a lot of visitors who pass through here in the village itself and the wooded areas and the country walks.
In addition to our beautiful wooded areas with its trees and naturally fallen logs which the wildlife love to make their home, we have this below, due to an incident last year when holiday makers decided to chop down some of the woods trees and build a fire which just happened to burn away some of the wooded area itself … why? Who knows, maybe because they considered it ‘funny!’
I don’t know why some people don’t use some common sense when it comes to wooded areas and show respect for the flora and fauna that reside within. It is not unknown for a small herd of deer to pass through Bluebell wood. But have you noticed how it appears that some people seemingly don’t care for the shape of not just wooded areas and woodlands or forests but anything where nature lives and people love in more recent years?
I have a friend across the road called Molly, she must be in her 70’s and is a keen ornathologist and yesterday evening, whilst walking Scrappy, l was walking and talking with Molly about our friendly yet camera shy buzzard who has decided to take up roost in Bluebell wood which is really quite exciting.
We got talking as we do about conservation and British woodland and discussing the sad declines of bird populations and how we are still very lucky to be enjoying reasonable populations of long tailed tits, wrens, robins, starlings and blue tits which are declining in other parts of the UK due to urbanisation and destruction of woodland area. The house sparrow is currently on the increase, after a very sorry state for this charming little species, for a good few years its numbers were seriously dwindling.
The notorious storm known as The Beast from The East in February and early March of last year [so a natural disaster reduced many bird numbers down horrendously] it wasn’t just a particularly nasty storm that these birds had to face but householders have also declined in their supplementing of food stuffs especially in the winter months. Some people around here, think not twice about simply cutting down an old tree without the right authority to do so, because they know they might only get charged a fine – the biggest culprit to vanishing trees is ‘house market value’, a tree might block a window and never mind the beauty of that outside the window or indeed the life that tree supplies to wildlife, they simply kill it!
Suze and l have a bird bath and a sandbath and we have seeds in feeders scattered around the garden so that birds can help themselves In addition to this, bordering our garden on both sides we have hedgerows which are homes to many families of birds robins, blackbirds, tits, wrens and chaffinches alike and of the mornings a walk out into the garden and it is literally like walking into bird song, it reminds me a lot of the new RSPB video … “Let Nature Sing”
Due to so called improved farming methods hedgerows are fast becoming a thing of the past, as they occupy valuable landspace, and what is this space? Well the average row might be a minimum of 36″ wide and as far as farming is concerned that is land space that can be used as crop production – so sure improved it is, but it is also aggressive farming that is decimating birdlife nesting and roosting areas!
As householders with gardens we can help our bird life, it’s not a great deal to put out a couple of feeders especially during the months of autumn and winter for birds, it’s nothing to have an area dedicated to the likes of a bug hotel or just a space where wildlife like hedgehogs can camp down, it’s nothing really. If the decimation of our woodlands continue then like the fox or the urban fox we are going to possibly see a lot more of our wildlife forced into suburbia as they will have nowhere else to go and those that simply cannot do that will disappear completely from our lands. That’s called extinction which is fast becoming a reality for many of our native species.
I think the biggest problem is that too many people seemingly forget that we do have a duty of care to our wildlife, or that they don’t have to think about it as someone else will, and so they let that responsibility fall into someone else’s hands. Well when the wildlife are suffering through the likes of human impact, that too is a form of cruelty, and as such it falls to us to ensure that we do our utmost to protect our native species from the likes of governments and poor legislation and industry.
There are currently many threats and pressures to woodlands and wildlife …. climate change, urbanisation, aggressive farming methods and techniques and of course pollution. But of course the biggest predator is the human impact itself – in even simpler terms – US. In the last decade alone more than a 1000 woodland areas, some very ancient have been lost forever to development. On top of that we have very poor administrative protection and even smaller and poorer grants being awarded for conservation projects.
In 2019 as in today the UK has lost more than half the ancient woodland that we had 70 years ago ….
Since the year 2000 , rural hedgehog populations have plummeted by 50% …
Almost a third of woodland birds are red listed …
Butterflies populations since 1991 have declined by 50%
More than 1 in 10 of the UK’s wildlife species faces extinction and endangered species have declined by two thirds since 1970…
We have to wake up, because if we don’t we are going to lose our natural world and all our natural inhabitants and if that happens … well that will be a bigger surprise than many can imagine. A trip down to the woods … ha! That’ll be a thing that will be lost forever.