DEAN GREEN TEAM

Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean

Gloucestershire

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News

(To see previous News page - up to 2011   2011 - 2012   2013   2014   2015   2016   2017   2018   2019 )

 

(Click on the item below to view)

Greathough Brook Beaver Dam - October 2020

Pine Marten News - September 2020

Pine Marten Sighting - June 2020

Forest Ponds - June 2020

Amazing Butterfly records - May 2020

Dean Green Team habitat successful for Adders - May 2020

Little Thorn Moth - May 2020

Newts - April 2020

Silver Birch on ancient railway track - April 2020

Ode to the Dean Green Team - March 2020

Very Rare Fungus - March 2020

Pine Marten Survey - March 2020

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust magazine from 2004 - February 2020

Hair Ice at Greathough Brook - January 2020

Otter print found - January 2020

Beaver update - December 2019

Christmas sheep removal - December 2019

 

Greathough Brook Beaver Dam - October 2020


They have indeed been as busy as beavers, coppicing many trees including a couple of oaks. The site is really getting wet from the amount of water held back by the 2 main dams, both near to the artificial lodge. Wetlands are really starting to develop and the water is now so deep upstream of the dams that even with waders on it would be too deep to wade in it. Below the dams the stream is still very low and easy to walk through.


This photo is of the second main dam, where the Ranger is standing downstream of it, showing how high it is- the water is only a few inches deep on the downstream side where the Ranger is standing. The dam is over 4 ft high and the water on the upper side of the dam is about 4ft deep.


The leaves are falling off the trees so visibility of the main area is getting easier from the path. It is certainly going to be interesting to see how the site continues to change over the winter.


 

Pine Marten News - September 2020



 

Pine Marten Sighting - June 2020


Many thanks to a cyclist who reported the following Pine Marten sighting on the 7th July.


"I saw one tonight, 100%, I have seen them before in Scotland. Ran across the track right in front of me and then along a fence.
I was cycling along about 2100 this evening and it ran from the left of the path right in front of me and jumped onto a wooden fence to my right. It then ran along that for a few metres and then disappeared into the woods. I was probably 20-30ft from it so I got a good look. Definitely an adult, small cat size."


It is very rare to actually see a Pine Marten and 18 of them were released in the forest last November so he was very fortunate with this sighting!

 

Forest Ponds - June 2020

 

Amazing Butterfly records - May 2020

The beautiful weather lately has brought the butterflies out in abundance! Members of our team have been monitoring them on their regular walks and we are surprised by the numbers. The Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies emerged last week at both the Linear Park ( Ruspidge Halt) and Brandricks Green. They were seen mating at both sites and this is a photo of the pair seen at Linear Park. A total of 6 individual small pearl- bordered were seen there.

This butterfly used to have 30+ breeding sites around the Dean but is now confined to just 2 known places, as most sites that supported the butterflies no longer has suitable habitat for them to survive.
The caterpillars eat violets which are in short vegetation often among light coverings of bracken. It needs to be in a sunny place and preferably a bit damp. There are several reasons that these places are disappearing, such as the growth of woody scrub or bracken growing too tall and uncontrolled. This is happening partly because there is no longer extensive grazing by sheep or coppicing by people. It could also be that climate change is making the landscape generally drier.
Forestry England is trying to halt the decline in our Forest and would really appreciate your help in telling us if you see any of these butterflies whilst you are out walking. The adults have just emerged and will be on the wing for the next couple of weeks. It would be really nice to find an undiscovered breeding place and if you let us know we can check it out.
It is a fast flier!''

Also, members then walked from the Linear Park up to the large pond where we planted the hawthorns and cleared scrub, and then up to Foxes Bridge Colliery Tip.

They recorded 90 Wood White butterflies! 48 Dingy Skipper, 12 Grizzled Skipper and numerous Small Heath and Common Blues which had also just emerged this week.

This is fantastic, the most Wood Whites and Dingies we have ever had there in one count. The new ponds are also looking pretty good with Broad bodied Chaser dragonflies on most.


Also seen were:


Orange-tip
Green-veined White
Small White
Large White
Red Admiral
Peacock
Small Tortoiseshell
Speckled Wood

 

Dean Green Team habitat successful for Adders - May 2020

We have proof of how successful our brash piles are for wildlife, including this lovely female adder who was tucked up cosily in the tight brash. She was safe from predators and protected from the rain. We also have records of them in our DGT brash piles at 3 other sites . This is really good news to know that we are helping these reptiles whose numbers are crashing over much of the country.

The Dean Green Team brash pile where the adder was found

 

 

 

 

Little Thorn Moth - May 2020

A Little Thorn Moth was found in a Forest of Dean orchard. This moth cannot be mistaken for any other species, due to the combination of its size, colour and wing shape.The moth has a restricted distribution, although it can be found in suitable locations in Dorset, the Isle of Wight, south Wiltshire, Berkshire, Surrey and West Sussex, as well as in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Monmouthsire and Herefordshire. It is scarce elsewhere in southern England and has a Notable B status.

It usually feeds on Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), although this is not found at all localities where the moth occurs, so there must also be an alternative foodplant.

 

 

 

Newts - April 2020

Our forest ranger went out to check the newt traps which have been sitting in a few ponds near to Crabtree Hill and found an amzing number of all three species of British neewts - Smooth newt, palmate newt and Great Crested Newt. She also found a large diving beetle and water snails and a Speckled Wood butterfly on a flowering gorse bush

Newt totals for our newt surveys were -

Great crested newts - male -5 Female - 3 (including our ''massive'' one 6-7 inches and it was not a fishermans tale!)

Smooth newt - male- 14 Female -7

Palmate- male -29 Female - 9

Also found were water beetles, dragonfly larvae, water snails, caddis larvae and lots of toad tadpoles in one pond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Birch on ancient railway track - April 2020

The Coronavirus lockdown has been going on for over 4 weeks now but the Rule of Thumb on exercise is as follows : You're allowed to drive somewhere to go for a walk as long as you spend much more time walking than you do driving. Therefore, we are so lucky to have the forest and, as locals, we know where we can go for blissful, isolated walks in the beautiful weather

The photo below shows the Silver Birch avenue along the top of an ancient railway track which probably ran from Trafalgar House towards Steam Mills. It is difficult to age the trees but they would probably be over 50 years old. The surrounding land is very boggy which seems to have impeded young birch growing from the seeds.

 

 

 

Ode to the Dean Green Team - March 2020

Whilst Coronavirus is causing havoc in the country our outings into the forest have been curbed. All volunteer tasks are cancelled - barriers are in place in the main car parks - walking is only permitted from home. However, we are not despondent as many of our team are noticing the emergence of butterflies in their gardens and reporting bird sightings.

One of our team members composed the following Ode to the Dean Green Team which is brilliant!

 

 

 

Very Rare Fungus - March 2020

On the 3rd of March (click here) when we were out at Parkend Tumps we found the remains of a Fungus as seen below. One of our team members contacted a Fungus expert and he thinks it is a Clathrus archeri (Octopus Stinkhorn or Devil's Fingers) They're occasional but not prolific, so its a good find nevertheless.

 

 

In Britain this remarkable fungus is commonly known as Devil's Fingers. As global warming advances this species may become more common in Britain. One thing is for sure: its appearance and its awful smell guarantee that it will not go unnoticed for long!

 

 

 

Pine Marten Survey - March 2020

We did a Pine Marten survey in the forest to see if we could find any scats or signs of them since twenty of them were released last year.It was astonishing that we actually saw a Pine Marten moving high up in dense conifers. Our expert was delighted with this as it was the first sighting in the Forest of Dean since the release! We walked along the trails behind the Cannop Cycle Centre where we found scat and then we walked from Speculation car park and were using the radio scanner until we had a response.

 

 

There are a few Pine Marten boxes in the forest and wildlife cameras near to them. Hopefully, they will have kits in the future.

 

 

Pine Martens are generalist predators, feeding on small rodents, birds, beetles, carrion, eggs and fungi. In autumn, berries are a staple. Pine Martens have territories that vary in size according to habitat and food availability. For males, these are about 10-25 square kilometres and for females about 5-15 square kilometres. They mark their territories with faeces (known as scats) deposited in places where they are conspicuous to other martens; they are frequently left along forestry trails.

Until the 19th Century, pine martens were found throughout much of mainland Britain, the Isle of Wight and some of the Scottish islands. Habitat fragmentation, persecution by gamekeepers and martens being killed for their fur, drastically reduced this distribution. By 1926, the main pine marten population in Britain was restricted to a small area of north-west Scotland, with small numbers in N Wales and the Lake District. They are now in Wales as well as the Forest of Dean but remain one of the rarest native mammals in Great Britain, with a total population of around 3-4,000.,

 

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust magazine from 2004 - February 2020

One of our team recently re-discovered the article below which was done in the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust 'Wildlife News' magazine for May-August 2004. This is so interesting as the interviews were taken at Tidenham Chase where we are still currently doing heathland restoration work after 16 years. The job never ends!

Luke Wilson (mentioned in the article) has moved to the other side of the River Severn so we do not see him regularly any more. However, he is still in contact and he organises our butterfly surveys in the summer.

Tony Thorne (also mentioned in the article) is STILL with us so he must be our most longest serving and consistent member of the team!

 

 

 

Hair Ice at Greathough Brook - January 2020

THIS IS A RARITY!

A couple of friends were walking round the beaver enclosure at Greathough Brook when they saw this beautiful sight and photographed it. It appears to be Hair Ice , also known as Ice Wool or Frost Beard. Hair ice is a rare type of ice formation where the presence of a particular fungus in rotting wood produces thin strands of ice which resemble hair or candy floss.

The conditions required for the formation of hair ice are extremely specific, hence the relative scarcity of sightings. To form, moist rotting wood from a broadleaf tree is required with the presence of moist air and a temperature slightly below 0 C.

In 2015 scientists determined the exact cause of the hair ice phenomenon, linking its formation to the presence of a specific fungus called Exidiopsis effusa. They discovered that the presence of the fungus led to a process called 'ice segregation'. When water present in the wood freezes it creates a barrier that traps liquid between the ice and the pores of the wood. This creates a suction force which pushes water out of the pores to the edge of the ice surface where it freezes and extends outwards. As this repeats it pushes a thin 'hair' of ice out of the wood which is around 0.01 mm in diameter. It is believed that an inhibitor present in the fungus allows the strands of ice to stabilise allowing the formation of the beautiful phenomena and allows the hair ice to keep its shape often for several hours.

 

 

Otter print found - January 2020

The paw print in the image below is of an otter and we would guess the otter was working it's way down the water course and trying to get back to the stream as it was found on the track towards the bottom of the reserve.

We have recorded otter twice now on the cameras, once by the inflow, it must have come through the inflow culvert and once by the side mine culvert. We haven't had them for some months though so this record is great. Lovely to have them around here relatively frequently.

 

 

This image was taken at the bottom of the valley and shows the beaver's latest tree with their gnawing on it. It is right by the bottom gate and its branches are against the larger tree which will stop it going over the gate. There is an obvious beaver track around this where the beavers have been exploring!

 

 

Beaver update - December 2019

The beavers have settled in together well now and there are signs of tree removal.

 

 

 

 

Christmas sheep removal - December 2019

The sheep which have been grazing in the wild flower area at Linear Park have now been taken back to their farm over Christmas. They should be back in the spring.