Author Archives: Chris Bates

Pop Up Stall – Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th December 2020

Although in the last few weeks there has still been small amounts volunteer work taking place in the woodland, our usual early October open day was cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus situation. However, the bees in their hives have thankfully paid no attention to this and have generously rewarded us with lovely, locally produced honey.

Jars of locally produced 2020 vintage honey for sale.

The 2020 honey vintage sold like those proverbial hot cakes, so much so that by midday on Sunday lunchtime, we had sold out! The photo below shows committee member Andrew Slade looking after the honey sales. He is also one of the key “custodians” of our hives.

Andrew Slade, woodland committee member and volunteer.

Also involved in running the weekend’s Pop-Up event was Rich Sylvester, who helped bring in several new members to the the Westcombe Woodland charity, an amazing number!

Rich Sylvester having a well-deserved coffee on a particularly cold morning.

Other photos show the woodland in deep sleep with yellow leaves, bare trees, and yet amazingly there are one or 2 bees still flying around the hives. The holly berries in the below photos are the most vibrant reds at this time of the year.

Beautiful red holly berries.
View inside the woodland.
Lichens on one of the pear trees in the orchard.

Mini Volunteer Day – Sunday 12th July 2020

Yesterday morning’s session focussed on a few areas; tidying up the footpath that leads from the entrance to the top of the mound. We are still limiting the numbers of people onsite at any one time, taking in to account the current situation with the corona viris health risk, but we are doing volunteer mornings in July.

The footpath leading from the entrance, before a little tidying up.

This has become a bit overgrown with trees and ivy, so a little “haircut” was needed.  The fallen leaves were then put in the compost bin.

Buckets of dead leaves from the footpath were then added to the compost heap.

Also, more fallen branches were cut into smaller pieces for future log pile are creation.

The bluebells were starting to seed, and as can be seen, they are ready to be scattered to be given new places to be grow. 

And more weeding, bindweed and brambles were removed which threatened to smother a hedge next to the pond. A busy morning!

A ripening apple

Site Visits – Early June 2020

The hot and sunny days that we had in April and May came to a bit of a halt in the first half of June, but with warm temperatures, the water level of the pond was slowly dropping. We had previously used rain water from the water butt at the entrance to the woodlands, but it was obvious that we needed more. We have now connected another water butt to the roof of the bee shed, which was further connected via a hosepipe to the pond, and with gravity, the pond level since the heavy rains of the 17th and 18th June, has filled up nicely.

Rainwater from the water butt filling up the pond.

Unfortunately, the heavy rains have knocked quite a few apples off the trees; we are hoping that those still remaining will provide a good crop in late September.

At end of May and early June, our bluebells had almost stopped flowering, but as can be seen below, a single foxglove on the Oak Glade area is floweing strongly. We have weeded around this foxflove in the hope that when it starts to seed in the next few weeks, these will land on the ground and not on plants’ leaves.

These bluebells have almost finished flowering.
A single foxglove in full flower located in The Oak Glade.

At the entrance of the glade is a 30 / 40 feet high cherry tree, which as the photo below shows on the 6th June, was full of ripe cherries and a large number of ripening cherries. However, a site visit a week later showed that apart from several green cherries, the local wildlife had helped themselves!

The bugs and beasties were out, with dragonflies, caterpillers, hoverflies and other insects being seen in large numbers.

Bug on a leaf

Volunteer Sessions – Update

Following on from a recent committee meeting, it has been decided that in the next few weeks, that we start to re-introduce our very popular Volunteer Sessions. More will be announced in the next 2 or 3 weeks, but we are looking at having small groups continue with our essential activities.

More information will follow, but groups will be small to allow for full “social distancing” measures to operate.

Brief Site Visit – 2nd May 2020

Yesterday, Saturday 2nd May 2020, should have been our 1st of our 2 open days of the woodland, but with the Coronavirus situation, there were no celebrations of the day.

However, light maintenance still needs to take place, including checking on the bees, the pond, the recently planted saplings and to make sure all is well. Just 2 people were in the woodland to make sure physical distancing was observed.

As usual, weeding and watering were undertaken, including the removal of dozens of invasive, garden escape Three Cornered Leek plants, bramble removal, green alkanet removal and topping up the pond with rainwater.