Blackthorn pruning, the Oak of Honor looking resplendent in the top right
This month we met on Saturday 1st February to continue pruning the blackthorn (Prunus spinosa, please) along the top of the hill. Left unmanaged, blackthorn will spread through the grasslands and all the way up to the pathway, taking over the grasslands and growing into small trees. We cut the shrubs down to about head height and filled the gaps with the brash to thicken it up a bit. This can look quite untidy to people, but as a Local Nature Reserve, we are doing our bit to support the site’s diverse wildlife by keeping the hedges in a denser, more shrub-like state.
The blackthorn hedge mid-cut
It looks a little like warfare – and it felt like it, blackthorn is brutal! – but the hedge will come back stronger in the spring and summer. And look at the state of the hedge back in September shows just how big it had become:
Well done to the Friends of One Tree Hill volunteers for a sustained effort over the autumn and winter, we look forward to seeing it sprout anew in the coming months. Our next workday will be in March.
Join us on Saturday 18th January 2014 at 12noon for a guide to the trees of One Tree Hill. Daniel Greenwood will be leading the walk and pointing out how to identify trees when not in leaf by looking at bark, buds, tree shape and habitat.
Please meet on the Honor Oak Park drive, email email@example.com for more information.
This is a free walk, all welcome, dogs on leads during the walk please.
On Saturday 7th December 2013 we conducted our annual bird box check and clean out (a little earlier this winter). We discovered that most of the boxes had been used, mostly by great tit and blue tit but possibly also the nuthatch, a bird which likes to line the hole of some bird boxes with a mud lining to reduce the size of the hole and deter larger predators from gaining entry.
Above you can see the variety of materials that tits use to create their nests. Mosses, dog hair, wool, grasses and even the bright yellow tennis ball ‘hair’ is used. The nests are often well stocked with fleas, and one nest in particular was positively thriving with them.
Chris brings his ladder every year to help with the job. Helmets are a priority for anyone under the ladder as the lids of the boxes can cause serious injury if they hit you on the head.
One of the boxes was attached to a large poplar that came down in October’s storm. We managed to find it, underneath the tree. Obviously we joked that it was the weight of the box that proved the final straw for the tree. It would also appear that one of our owl boxes has disappeared. Tawny owls are yet to breed at One Tree Hill whilst we have been surveying but residents nearby regularly hear them calling, and the birds are known to breed in Nunhead Cemetery, at Sydenham Hill Wood and in the wooded parkland and open greens around Dulwich.
On Saturday we spotted a sparrowhawk flying low through the woodland, with a flock of long-tailed tits trilling in harmony to warn of its approach. A flock of parakeets then arrived to disturb the hungry hawk.
Thanks to local fungi expert David Warwick for leading the Friends of One Tree Hill’s fungi walk on Saturday. We discovered hare’s ears, knights, milkcaps, deceivers, waxcaps, bonnets and brackets and observed how the return of the site to woodland after a brief hiatus for the Oak of Arnon Wood showed that grassland species were retreating as the woodland regained its hold on the landscape. We also spotted two red admiral butterflies basking in the hilltop sunshine. Thank you also to everyone who attended and made it a very interesting and enjoyable community event.
David identifies some fungi growing atop the hill
The Oak of Honor looking rather verdant so late in the year
David discusses the issue of ash dieback, a fungi to be feared
Parasol mushroom at One Tree Hill by D. Greenwood
On Saturday 16th November local fungi expert David Warwick will be leading a walk on One Tree Hill.
Meet at the noticeboard on the drive to St. Augustine’s Church at 12noon, reach along Honor Oak Park, up the steps if entering near the allotments after arriving at Honor Oak Park station. Please wear appropriate footwear and outdoor clothing. This is a free walk and booking is not required.
Please note that this is not a foraging event. One Tree Hill is a Local Nature Reserve where all plants, animals and fungi are protected by law. Urban nature reserves can be greatly disturbed by foraging due to their unique ecological character and isolation.
Join us at One Tree Hill this coming Saturday for a workday. We meet at 11am by the notice board next to the Hindu Temple along the driveway, accessed from Honor Oak Park.
Email workday leader Daniel Greenwood if you’d like to join us: firstname.lastname@example.org
At today’s workday we cut back the blackthorn on top of the hill. Blackthorn produces sloes and can climb into straggly trees which need to be pruned or hedged if it is too offer decent habitat for breeding birds in the spring. This spot is where garden warblers can be found drinking nectar from the small (and edible) white flowers in spring.
Thanks to everyone who attended our Great North Wood walk on Sunday 4th August. 40 people came and almost everyone completed the jaunt.
Feeding on ragwort at One Tree Hill (copyright D. Greenwood)
Meet at the Honor Oak Park notice board next to the Hindu Temple for a 4 hour walk through the remnants of our local woodland heritage.
Email email@example.com for more information