Beatons Wood in October
What an exceptionally dry and warm month it has been but with the vibrant autumn colours as depicted by this young hornbeam tree, an abundance of berries and apples (below) from one of the few ancient crab apple trees left mainly growing in the south end of the Wood. Last year we planted three young trees in those parts of the Wood where they were missing, just to add diversity but only two have barely survived. We will plant a few more young trees later this year, endeavouring to water them during the dry spells, and hope the deer will not thwart our efforts to get them well established!
There are some areas in which we have some very mature coppice Spanish Chestnut trees, and you can see some of their harvest of chestnuts all over the ground where the squirrels have knocked them down from the trees. Seeing so many empty husks, they are clearly getting their reward!
The Lower Pond’s water level is now so low that I recently saw a heron standing in the centre, easily catching the fish that have much less chance to get away! We will have to wait until we have a warm day in the spring and the fish rise to the surface to catch flies. This may then give an idea of how many the heron failed to eat! The first four fish where added by our children when it first became a pond. As I understand, herons can deposit fish eggs that have attached themselves to their legs, so numbers have increased over the years.
History of the Lower Pond
The history of the creation of this pond was accidental back in the late 1960’s, when we needed surplus soil to level the surface inside new farm buildings. Our soil is predominately heavy weald clay, but here we had identified an area of sandy soil, and started digging out what we needed. Later we noticed water settled in the hole we had left due to the clay subsoil, so thought we could create a pond to support the wildlife,thus made all the sides sloping, to encourage easy access for the mammals that live in Beatons Wood. To add some diversity we purposely dug round the other side of what is now an island, which has created a peaceful haven where so many visitors sit and relax and some take memorable photos. (This photo is by Pete Goldsmith.) The water lilies have increased over the years, started from a small clump donated by the widow of a late friend, whose husband had been involved in the Dunkirk evacuation and apparently this lily was sourced from France, and continues to thrive here at Arlington.
History of the Upper Pond
In the north east corner of Beatons Wood, one can see an area that has been excavated many years back, as again there is sandy soil, but without any clay subsoil it holds no water. The Upper Pond was purposely dug for more soil some years later, but this time we wanted to create a pond, so we chose this site which is sloping, as having no natural springs on the farm, we have to rely solely on surface water to fill them. We cut the coppice that covered the area of the pond, dug out the roots and put them on one side, excavated the soil needed with sloping sides, then pushed the roots into the centre to form an established islandeven though the only soil was what was attached to the roots. This time no plants or fish were added by us, as we just wanted to see how nature colonized this much smaller pond. Bedes School for some years monitored how nature slowly introduced species of plants, but to date no fish, due no doubt to it being that much smaller and not so deep as the Lower Pond. The survey ended when the teacher involved moved elsewhere, which was a pity as we did not continue the monitoring.
My aim is for it to be posted on the website on Friday 25 November.
This message was added on Friday 28th October 2016
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