Today was a Wilden Marsh Workday in the Top Field alongside Wilden Lane – the field the cattle have been living in and dining on hay for the past two weeks. Half the field area is taken up with a tangled and overgrown wood; we have worked to improve it for many years. I moved the herd to the adjoining Orchid Field to get them out of the way, and we set about clearing the small wood full of crack willow, alder, fir, black poplar, blackthorn in bloom at the moment, hawthorn, cherry, ash, and a few other species. We were mostly concerned with bringing down leaning crack willows, cutting and stacking fallen wood, opening out the wood to let sunlight in, and generally doing what we could to help the cattle move more easily through it. The centre section of the wood we left untouched.
A dead badger, hit by a passing vehicle, was spread out on the grass verge between the wood and Wilden Lane. Large tufts of badger hair tumbled back and forth across one of the cattle tracks winding through the wood: torn out by mating or fighting badgers. Three badgers setts were found: two of which might be inhabited. Three above ground sheltered couches were seen under tree roots: likely being used by munjac deer.
Two chainsaws howled for most of the day, and more ground was cleard than I had expected. Steve Anderson found Arfur Frog, half way up a willow pollard he was working on. Arfur had been stripped to the waste, he was fresh, had lost his head, and was really in a bad state. Maybe a bird had nabbed the frog and decided it didn’t like the taste, or had dropped it when flying over the wood. We will never know.
I talked with a retired person living across Wilden Lane this morning. He had removed the lower branches from his trees, so the he could watch the marsh cattle from his living room. It’s good to know that local people are intersted in the marsh and its cattle.
A quantity of bird boxes have been donated to Wilden Marsh; we will install them in this wood.