Tag Archives: woodland

The Weasels Visit

A fallen tree trunk is a piece of woodland motorway as far as the wood’s denizens are concerned, a clear path for getting from A to B. However, it contains interior passages crammed with food items, so doubles as a service station as well. So I reasoned when I set up my camera trap to look along the top surface of the fallen and mouldering giant.


And so it proved. The camera revealed wood mice scampering along at great speed, no doubt influenced by the dread of the local tawny owl. During September, the camera showed that these risky excursions took place, on average, four times a night, and also showed that voles and shrews made the occasional appearance.

Last Saturday, I returned from the wood with the SD cards from the cameras and started going through the files on my computer. This one, taken just before 7 o’clock in the morning the previous Friday, had me whooping with excitement:

Twenty minutes later, the weasel showed up again, but then there was nothing for the rest of the day, and I thought that the weasel was just passing through. Then I started looking at the files from the next day, and at 8.45 am, there was the weasel again, and this time, it stayed all day, popping in and out of the crack in the log, exuding that aura of both cuteness and ferocity that is so characteristic of their kind.

And there was more than one weasel – in some of the video clips, the weasel looking distinctly younger, and one clip showed both weasels flowing one after the other along the crack in the log.

In all, there were 39 hits spread through the day, from 8.45 am to 5.50 pm. Presumably, they had a rest then because there was no activity until one hit at 1.35 am that night. There was then no sign of the weasels until the following day, Monday, when the final hit occurred at 1.09 pm:

There were no weasels on the camera trap for the next three days, up to the point where I collected the SD cards from the camera, so they have moved on. I am eager to see the next installment from the fallen tree just in case, but I don’t expect to see them back for a while.


Path finished!

Not only the Landrover but Natalie’s two wheel drive Honda Accord can make it to the top of the wood now the path has been refurbished.


A family picnic used to involve ferrying all the gear – and children – up the track from the front gate in a wheelbarrow, but now we can just drive straight up there and pile out – a considerable improvement in our standard of living!


A new flower in the wood

A few weeks ago, Jim asked me about a plant growing near the entrance to Coed Mostyn, and I had to confess that I had no idea what it was. It had leaves and the tiny beginnings of flower buds, but I had no chance of identifying it. However, today it had a flower – a yellow one, with a nice shape which was vaguely familiar. I photographed it and when I got home, I googled “flower yellow woodland” and selected Images. I clicked through page after page of photographs of yellow flowers, but didn’t see it.

Eventually, I got out our old copy of Keble Martin, and after thumbing through a few pages, spotted it.

Coed Mostyn Impatiens noli-tangere (Touch-me-not Balsam)


It’s the touch-me-not balsam, or Impatiens noli-tangere, the British equivalent of that prolific invader, Himalayan balsam, with which it shares the endearing characteristic of producing exploding seedpods. And it’s a rarity! Having a name for it enabled a web search to find lots more information, and it seems that it only exists naturally in North Wales and the Lake District.

I’m looking forward to photographing its exploding seedpods in due course.


Great Spotted Woodpecker – Domestic Duties

Bill told me about his woodpecker’s nest at the start of May, and I got over there right away. The hole was high up in an old willow tree beside the river, visible from the landrover parked beside the track to The Wilderness.

J6369I spent an interesting few hours watching as the pair took turns inside the nesthole, presumably incubating the eggs. The books say that this is mostly done by the female, but this one did not seem to be carrying her weight – in fact, at the last changeover, the male seemed quite annoyed at how long she had spent enjoying herself instead of relieving him, and literally chased her into the nest hole!

Female has just arrived –


and sidles around the back of the tree and into the nesthole!


And so to today, when the chicks have hatched and are being fed – but only by the male, He arrived with food 22 times in the two hours I watched, so averaging 5.4 minutes between visits. There was no sign of the female, so perhaps she has met with an accident. Or perhaps there is more complicated biology going on – for example, is she sitting on eggs in another nest?

I noticed that, like the dippers, at the instant that the food is handed over, both parent and chick have their eyes shut.



Coed Mostyn

From Hilbre Island, the winter sun reflects from the water or sand – depending on the state of the tide – of the Dee estuary, dazzling the eye and casting the line of Welsh hills along the far side into shadow.

Alamy 240589One of the foothills rising from the shore of the estuary on the other side is topped by several fields surrounded by woodland. In the valley to the south of the hill, a small river runs down to the sea, past the ruins of a great house called the Downing, built in 1626, in which the writer and traveller, Thomas Pennant, was born and lived. The side of the hill which faced the mansion, cloaked in its ancient woodland, is creased by a couple of small valleys, one of which contains Coed Mostyn, ours since April 2013.


This is a part of the 1899 OS map, with our wood outlined in red. It remains surprisingly accurate, with only one additional track. K3894Access is through a gate at the southwestern end of the track running the length of the wood, and at this point the track is at the bottom of a steep-sided valley. About half way up, the track levels out and enters a level glade on its left near the top.

Two problems were immediately evident. The first was the quantity of laurel covering the slopes at the western end – probably planted in Victorian times to line the paths leading up the slope to the northeastern corner where there is a fine view over the estuary. It is now completely covering the ground, and the mature broadleaf trees whichK3687 emerge through and above it have no chance of reproducing themselves in its dense shade. On taking over the wood, the first task was to clear several laurel trees which had been brought down by the weight of snow in March, and were sprawling over the paths. The laurel will have to go!

K3729The second problem appeared when we got the keys and drove through the gate in the Landrover. A few yards up the steep track, and we came to a halt with the wheels turning ineffectually. The ruts in the track is the drainage path for the wooded valley, and they were filled with a soft damp mud which gave very little traction. The track will need a lot of work to make it driveable, and this is important because we need to get up to the level glade at the top of the valley.