Spring and Summer 2022

More Sitka Spruce removal

Winter and Spring saw more felling of the Sitka Spruce that were planted in 2013. Each passing year they are getting larger our plot looks totally different from when we purchased it in 2018. We do intend to keep some of them especially for the Goldcrests and Siskin. Keeping some will also provide a varied and resilient Woodland.

One glade that we created in 2019. You can still see some spruce around the perimeter.

Previous planting.

In 2013 around 2000 Sitka Spruce were planted in our plot purely as a timber crop. These trees were planted in amongst historically coppiced Sweet Chestnut, Hazel, Beech and Birch. Although we have cleared a lot of them Tamara and I have also planted over 450 additional trees and shrubs within our plot. We have done this to boost the variety of native species and build the woodlands future resilience to pests, diseases and climatic changes.

Two new glades

Two new glades have been created this year and both are totally different. The one below shows an area cleared with three Sweet Chestnut trees coppiced.

Area to be coppiced
Work in progress

As before we utilised the cut brash to stake the perimeter of the stools and then weave thinner branches horizontally. To finish off small lengths of Sitka spruce branches are inserted vertically. The deer don’t like this as the Sitka is prickly. They do manage to nibble a few new shoots on the outer edges but if left unprotected they would eat all of the new regrowth.

Number 2 glade created this year.

This glade was very hard work, as well as dense Sitka Spruce we also had to contend with dense gorse. It is regenerating very quickly and parts will need further cutting back this winter. Like some other glades we have created there has also been an explosion of Wood Sage.

Wood Sage Plume Moth. This summer I managed to catch a Wood Sage Plume Moth in my bug pot. This species is quite rare so I was very pleased to have found one. We do have a lot of Wood Sage which has obviously attracted it. Although there was Wood Sage prior to our ownership it was only in much smaller areas. Our glade and ride creation has allowed this native plant to flourish. The summer flowers are a fantastic food source for bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies and other insects.

Wood Sage Plume Moth
The dense gorse and Sitka spruce that had to be cleared
the newly created South facing glade

Frogspawn and Toadspawn

The annual spawn didn’t take place until 31st January. The frogs are always first with Toads following after the frenzy. We definitely had more this year which is fabulous. Unfortunately where I had cleared the side of our middle pond it left them vulnerable to predation. It was the predation of the Toads that amazed me the most with Heron, Buzzard and Tawney Owls taking them whilst spawning. Although this was hard to see it is all part of the biodiversity and food chain. We provide more habitat which in turn provides more food source.

Buzzard taking a Toad
Good amount of spawn
Top pond in the winter

Storm Eunice

Luckily storm Eunice did not cause us any issues although our dead standing Nightjar tree did not survive its winds. This dead tree is now doing its ecological work horizontally.

Layering Hazel.

This is something I have been experimenting with. Normally Hazel is layered when one stem is left after being coppiced. The stem is cut near the base and then pegged to the ground as per the pictures. I have tried this with current non coppiced Hazel trees and it seems to be working.

One selected stem for layering split near its base.
Stem pegged to make good contact with soil.

This system appears to be working for us. Its a great way to boost the amount of Hazel stems. Well worth a go!


We have wintering Woodcock each year and these will be the visiting European ones. One happened to visit the Badger sett entrance which was a bonus. An incredibly camouflaged bird that you only normally flush as you walk around.



What is really humbling about our project is when we see the results on the ground. This glade was baron with dense Sitka and no ground Flora at all at the beginning of last year.

March 2021
This summer
This summer

You can see the transformation which is staggering. From the baron ground grew Yorkshire Fog and Brown Bent grass. These grasses then in turn provided habitat for many species. Skipper butterflies were mating in this new glade, Labyrinth and Nursery Web spiders made it their new home too. I also managed to discover a Truncated Combe Footed Spider Episinus maculipes which are classified as nationally scarce.

Episinus maculipes Truncated Comb-Footed Spider.

This is absolute proof of making space for nature, if you create a suitable habitat the wildlife will make it their home.

Common Lizards. within this new glade I had the excitement of spotting a Common Lizard. I have always thought that we must have them due to the abundance of food that they prey on. We have millions of Pardosa Sultans ( wolf spider) as well as many other spiders and insects which they hunt. The site is heathy, slightly acid and free draining which is perfect Lizard habitat.

Common Lizard.
Common Lizard.

Not so common.

These creatures are amazing and unfortunately like a lot of our wildlife not so common these days. Since spotting one in that glade we have also seen them in three other areas within our plot including one youngster. This is fabulous news and this wonderful species will only benefit from our ongoing management work. They need areas where they can bask in the morning sun therfore the shading of some trees will have to be monitored.

New species for our woodland

This has been an amazing year for recording new species one of which is the Green Hairstreak butterfly, our only green native butterfly.

Green Hairstreak butterfly.

A Pearl Bordered Fritillary was also spotted this year which is a first and great news. This species has a stronghold on Dartmoor and nearby but we are hoping that they will breed within our plot over the coming years. The Pearl Bordered Fritillary is a UKBAP priority species and on the GB red list as endangered. A speckled Bush Cricket was found in our new glade.

Speckled Bush Cricket.
Ichneumon possibly extensorius.
Wasp Beetle.

The amazing Giant Horntail.

Giant Horntail ( actually a sawfly)

The Giant Horntail is amazing and larger than a hornet they appear formidable but are actually harmless. This is actually a large sawfly which lays her eggs in timber. This one was laying her eggs with her long ovipositor in some cut Douglas Fir. The eggs will develop into pupae but won’t emerge for up to five years so I have moved this log so that I don’t cut it up for logs.

Box Bug.

This Box Bug has extended its range from being only found in Box, South East England to the South West. A great find!

Black Spotted Longhorn Beetle.

Another highlight of this summer has to be capturing a male and female Wall Brown butterfly mating as he females are more elusive so it was great to see one.

Female Wall Brown.
Mating pair of Wall Browns.

We have recorded many more species than what I have listed here which is very exciting indeed.

Return of the pink grasshoppers

I immediately thought of Peter Sellers with this heading 😄. We had got to a point where we thought last year must have been a one off and then one morning we saw four within an hour and within 30 square meters. I managed photographs of three below. So we have a fully mutated Meadow Grasshopper, a partially mutated Meadow Grasshopper and a partially mutated Field grasshopper.

What causes the mutations? It is a genetic fault similar to that of an albino in other species. In grasshoppers it is called erythrism which causes the varying red forms in Field, Meadow and Large Marsh grasshoppers. General consensus is that most will not survive due to early predation as they really do stand out amongst the crowd.

Could this be an annual event? So now I am thinking some would have survived and bred and since that morning I have seen others in different parts of my woodland so they appear to be doing well. It would be great to think that this marvel of pinkness will be an annual event. The one below reminds me of a transformer.

Fully mutated Meadow Grasshopper. This photo has not been altered in any way at all ( other than cropping).
Same grasshopper on my hand.
Partly mutated Meadow Grasshopper.
Part mutated Field Grasshopper.
How they should look.
Field Grasshopper normal form.

Some more pictures from this summer

A Southern Hawker emerging.
Roe Buck.
Parasol mushrooms.
Early dew.
Young Bank Vole.
Lurking in the shadows.
Heath Bedstraw.
Common Blue Butterfly.
Cucumber Spider.
2nd Gen Brimstone.
Silver Washed Fritillary.
Blotch Winged Hoverfly.
Larch in the spring.

A curved ball thrown at us.

Some of you who follow our Facebook page for Woodland Wildlife will know that back in April my wife Tamara had two heart attacks. This was a complete shock to us as a family. Tamara has always been so health conscious and has always kept fit. Indeed we think had she not been so fit her outcome may have been different. She has recovered well, on lots of tablets but more importantly continuing to improve. We would like to thank everyone for their kind messages of support. Tamara will be assisting me in the woods this winter although it will be with slightly lighter duties.

This winters projects.

It will not be long when our attention turns to our winter projects. As well as coppicing we will be creating pathways in our newly created glades. These will be very useful for next year’s observations. Our aim is to still clear more areas to restore them back to their natural state of wooded heath. The Heather appears to be naturally emerging which is fantastic.

Our craft stalls.

It has been a very busy summer with our craft stall. We have been at Kingsbridge, Paignton Harbour, Newton Abbot and Dartmouth Regatta. Unfortunately our busiest time coincided with the best time for observations in our woodland. Christmas is looming and we are hoping for a busy December. After that we will have more time to dedicate to our project as the markets are quiet until April.


Although we haven’t made as much of our own crafts as usual this summer we are getting back to it. We will have a good range of our unique Devonshire Fairy houses and coloured hanging decorations leading up to Christmas. We now have an amazing selection of Gemstone jewellery, Indonesian Crafts to compliment our own products. Just like or follow Woodland Wildlife on Facebook to follow our woodland project and to see where are craft stall will be each week.

Thank you for reading this blog, sorry its a lengthy one but I haven’t had the chance to do one until now.

Yours in nature.

Steve and Tamara.