Out in the Woods: February 2018

In the last six months of 2017 the wood wardens continued to use their diverse skills to transform the wood. The work undertaken included coppicing, planting, maintaining footpaths, clearing shrub and maintaining fences, ditches and culverts. Our work has been recognised as an improvement by both Natural England and the great majority of the public that we meet and talk to in the wood.

Our programme of guided walks - conducted by well-qualified, experienced and enthusiastic leaders assisted by wood wardens - continued well into the autumn. We enjoyed good support from our local community as well as visitors from further afield.

The 2018 season of guided walks starts in March. Full details are posted on the website as well as being printed monthly in our local Welwyn Hatfield Times Magazine.  The list will also be displayed at various key points in Sherrardspark Wood. These walks offer an excellent introduction to the woodland and the voluntary wood wardens, who give their time to helping preserve our ancient woodland for future generations to enjoy.
   
We are sometimes asked how “ancient woodland” is identified. Very briefly, the term relates to native woodland habitats in England, Wales and Northern Ireland where there is evidence that they existed before 1600 AD (or 1750 AD in Scotland). Certain plants such as Yellow Pimpernel, Primroses, Dog Violets, Wood Sorrell, Bluebells and many others still commonly found in the woods across the country are recognised as ancient woodland indicators. They are also present in Sherrardspark Wood. For more information please click here.

During 2017 our wood wardens have taken some time out from Sherrardspark Wood to assist other working groups who need a little extra support in their voluntary work. At Lemsford Springs a group of wood wardens were raking watercress from the lagoon to allow the spring water to flow more freely, to help prevent silting-up of the river and help feed birds, such as Green Sandpiper and Kingfisher.

Danesbury Park support group have also benefitted from our assistance in their conservation work, as have Northaw Great Wood.

At Ayot St. Peter, on the site of the now non-existent church, a very hard-working group cleared a considerable amount of undergrowth in the graveyard - a task much appreciated by the local community group.

A new bench seat at Six Ways was put in place to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Sherrardspark Wood Wardens Society.  An Interpretation Board has also been installed at Six Ways.

It is very rewarding to have the support of local companies. A group of volunteers from Roche Products joined us for a fairly intense tree planting session, which was much appreciated.

Our bird, butterfly and small mammals monitoring groups have had a busy schedule to maintain. It is pleasing to report that our bird population is thriving with Robins, Wrens and Dunnocks regularly nesting in our created bunds (deadwood structures build from coppiced brush).  Buzzards and Sparrowhawks have also been nesting in the wood.

It is not all work being a wood warden! We have a team organizing social events, which include regular group meetings with a speaker, well supported countryside walks usually with a pub lunch, occasional outings to relevant locations and, of course, a Christmas Lunch Party. Quite an event this year with a serious snow fall on the day and a rapid relocation of wood wardens and food to the home of a very generous wood warden, where we were all made most welcome, instead of the booked inaccessible venue.

How amazing it is to report that work parties were held on 113 days during 2017, when 76 dedicated volunteers gave over 4000 hours of their time.  It is very gratifying that so many wood wardens care for our beautiful ancient woodland, and may many volunteers in years to come continue to carry on the good work to ensure the future of this treasured wood.

Marian Dawson

Wood Warden and President
Sherrardspark Wood Wardens Society 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guided walk with Thomas Curtis. Photo Marian Dawson

Tidying up disused graveyard at Ayot St Peter. Photo Graham Carter

Interpretation board and anniversary bench at Six Ways. Photo Chris Cooke

Coppice near completion at Pentley Park. Photo Marian Dawson

Small mammals monitoring. Photo Kate Graeme-Cook