Thursday, 23 February 2017

Our blog has moved!

We are now hosting the BFT Blog on our main website so there will be no more posts or events listed on this site.

Please click HERE to go to the new blog page 

 

 


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Tracks in the snow

Winter is a great time to get out and see which animals have been passing by. Plenty of mud and (if you're lucky) snow, mean that animal tracks are much easier to spot.

The tricky part once you've found some good tracks, is figuring out which creature made them.
In January after a good snowfall, Junior Rangers had a go looking for tracks at Corehead Farm.


There are many things to consider when looking at tracks...
- How many toes can you see?
Badgers, weasals, stoats, pine martens and shrews have 5 toes on the back and front, where as foxes, cats and dogs have 4. Some species such as rats, mice, squirrels, voles and beavers have four toes on the front and five on the back.

- Is it a front or back foot?

- What size is the print? 

- Can you see claws? Cats keep their claws withdrawn when walking

- Is the paw print symmetrical? E.g. cats have asymmetrical front prints where as dogs are very symmetrical.

- What sort of gait did the animal have?
Diagonal walkers move their front left foot and back right foot at the same time eg deer, dogs, cats
Pacers move their front left and back left at the same time eg badgers
Bounders back feet land just behind the front feet eg weasels
Gallopers back feet land just in front of the front feet eg rabbits and rodents
Great image here to illustrate this!

There is a key to animal tracks here,

and a good PDF of common UK tracks here

 There are many other clues to look for such as hairs, droppings, runs or trails in the grass.

Can you figure out who these prints belong to?




As the woodland develops and grass grows longer at Corehead we may begin to see more variety of tracks as diversity of food sources and suitable areas to den/nest increase.

Ali Murfitt
Site and Community Officer

Thursday, 15 December 2016

John Bruce Elliott Wood



At Hoprigshiels there are three wind turbines currently being constructed to allow affordable housing to be built in the Berwickshire area. The project has been in development by Berwickshire Community Renewables for years and finally got the go ahead earlier this year. There is a range of ‘habitat enhancement works’ that were undertaken as a part of the project. One such component of the works was a native woodland comprised of three compartments planted on a nearby farm (close to Oldhamstocks, East Lothian). The woodland had a very specific design as it had a number of purposes; improving the habitat for wildlife, creating shelter for sheep on the hill and to provide a visual screen between the conservation village of  Oldhamstocks and the wind turbines’ rotating blades.

The newly planted John Bruce Elliott wood.
Sadly John Bruce Elliot passed away in April 2015. John was a long-time friend and supporter of Borders Forest Trust and chairman of Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA). He was also for many years a Councillor with Scottish Borders Council and Chair of the Berwickshire Area Committee. He was very much an outdoor person and an active member of the Duns Walkers and Berwickshire branch of the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
  The community renewables project was a long term vision of John’s and it was decided by the project coordinators that the woodland planted as a part of the project would be named the ‘John Bruce Elliott Wood’, a fitting tribute.
Pleasant words and memories being shared by colleagues, family and friends

On November 4th myself and David Long (BFT trustee and friend of John Elliott) attended the naming ceremony which started at the Oldhamstocks village hall and was very well attended by John’s colleagues, friends and family.


John's daughter planting a Scots Pine in John's memory

 We all then headed to the new woodland and were greeted with a beautiful view of the coast and pleasant, crisp weather.

A toast and a fitting speech were given.

A few words were said by John’s colleagues and daughter who then revealed a beautiful wooden plaque carved by a local craftsman. A tree (Scots pine) was then planted and glasses raised in Johns memory.

The plaque which now stands among the trees in the new woodland.


It was a privilege to represent BFT in such a positive way and to coordinate the planting of a woodland that improves local woodland habitat connectivity and provides such strong ties to the local community.

Alasdair Fagan
Woodland Habitats Officer

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Corehead Autumn Adventures

In the School Holidays for the past two years we have run an 'Adventure Club.' This is open to people of all ages (adults, families and children alike! ) to take part in a wide range of activities, games and crafts at Corehead Farm.

The aim of these sessions are to use a diverse range of activities to help people connect with and learn about our natural world. Its about looking at the details in nature, helping notice what is around us and inspiring each other to take part in actions which conserve and restore it.  This can be through art and craft, wildlife surveys, bush craft, survival skills and nature games.

This October half term, we ran two sessions:

The first was all about hibernation and winter survival. We looked for hidden clues in the forest to discover how our different mammals adapt to the winter. We discovered Badgers, squirrels and mice aren't true hibernators, where as hedgehogs and bats are - dropping their body temperature and heart rate considerably.


We talked about different adaptations creatures have from the downy under feathers of small birds, to the cosy drays of squirrels. We then had a go at building our own dens... to house a hot water bottle....the challenge to see many degrees its temperature would drop in different dens!  Who could keep it the warmest!?

The winning Den!
Looking cosy!?

We then talked about the importance of fire for human survival in winter. lit our own fire and drank hot apple juice!



The second was more crafty, celebrating the turning off the seasons, by making leaf candle holders, and telling stories round a camp fire in the woods.



If you'd like to be updated of future Adventure club sessions in 2017 please email

Corehead@bordersforesttrust.org to be added to our mailing list.

Ali Murfitt
Site and Community Officer




 

Friday, 4 November 2016

Community Bake Off!

What a beautiful Autumn its been this year! At Corehead, our conservation volunteers and Junior Rangers have been out and about, enjoying the Autumn sun, helping look after the orchard

Here are some highlights: 

The orchard
This is the first year that the trees have been old enough to leave some of the fruit on the trees, and after a good session of weeding round the trees it was apple picking time for the Junior Rangers !

 
Orchard Celebrations



First we had the Junior Rangers out in the orchard, weeding round the trees, raking up grass 

Then the picking commenced

The fun way to pick apples !

and the apple tasting!
Which variety tastes best!!?


Plenty of apples to go round!



Junior Rangers took them home to enjoy and have a go at baking with fresh apples from the tree

Here are some of the results
Apple Pie 

Reuben's crumble 
Apple Turnover

Apple smoothie! Yum!! 
Danny won the bake off challenge for productivity and variety, making a smoothie, turnover and crumble from the apples he took home!! Great stuff!!

Our adult volunteers have also been hard at work replacing and reinforcing the tree guards.





This winter we'll be holding a pruning workshop in the orchard...details coming soon

Ali Murfitt
Site and Community Officer 





Monday, 29 August 2016

The seasons are shifting: Fungi at Corehead

The seasons are shifting and the fungi are out in beautiful displays at Corehead Farm. 

As you wander up to the beech tree, the giant polypore (Miripulis giganteus) is still fruiting at its cut off roots, living off the now deadwood underground.



Bachelors buttons (Bulgaria inquinans or 'Fairy trampolines' as I prefer to say, is on its trunk, tempting round disks which would be so fun to jump on if you were wee!

Porcelain fungus (Oudemansiella mucida) which will soon expand into a beautiful white translucent cap which the sun lights up, and dew drops glisten,  currently sprouts small and inconspicuous out of the main trunk and also the smaller logs and branches.

Over the years countless fungi will come and go on this fallen beech as they slowly return it to the soil.



Over in the grasslands, there are some areas where the 'gems' of the grasslands fruit. Waxcaps in golden yellow, scarlet red, parrot green, orange and white are beginning their spore laden display.





Part of a suite of fungi (which includes earth tongues, coral fungi, pink gills and crazed caps) waxcaps are indicators of old unimproved grassland which hasn't been ploughed, overly fertilised or heavily compacted. Its great to see a variety on the grassy knolls at Corehead.

Hidden under the bracken which we bashed around the young trees last week, some of the ectomycorrhizal or 'partner' fungi have already established themselves, swapping nutrients for sugar with the trees and helping them to grow.


Its all happening underground

Time to get out and see those Autumn displays!!

  
Ali Murfitt
Site and Community Officer




Friday, 22 July 2016

We're covered in Bees

 A few weeks ago, Alasdair and myself attended a Bumblebee Identification workshop run by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to learn the basics on how to accurately identify species and tell the difference between males, female workers and queens.

Look we caught a bee (and then let it go again...just in case you're worried!!)

Which bee is it? 

When it comes to telling bees apart its all about number and colour of stripes and how hairy are those legs! But first you need to tell if its even a bumblebee as there are many flies which imitate our bee's.

Check if the 'Bee' has small eyes and long antennae. Flies and Hoverflies tend to have short antennae and big eyes!

                                                     This a Bee Fly so not a Bee - look at its big eyes and short antennae                                                 (image copyright wikimedia commons by Gbohne)


Once you're sure its a bee then the position, colour and size of the stripes on a bee's body is crucial for identification. Workers, males, and queens can have different markings as well even though they are the same species.  The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has some great resources to help with identification.

Female workers have pollen baskets on the back legs which either have pollen on or appear smooth and shiny. Males (and the parasitic Cuckoo bees) don't have these and so the legs are hairy all the way round, they also appear 'lazy' (technical description!) as they only need to feed themselves and not provide for the nest. 

This is a female worker, spot the pollen on the back leg 
Shiny legs of a worker! 

This week the Corehead volunteers completed our first Bee Walk survey. Our transect goes through the meadow we have been managing to increase wildflowers and up into the five year old replanted native woodland in Tweedhope. Its going to be fascinating to see if number and diversity of bee species increase as habitat restoration at Corehead continues.  
Corehead survey in action 

We found a Tree Bumblebee, White tailed, Buff tailed, Common Carder and Blaeberry bumblebee.

The Tree Bumble is a relative new comer to Scotland and has slowly been making its way northwards and the Blaeberry Bumblebee is an upland species which a bright orange/red tail and abdomen! 

Thanks to John for the great photo above of  the Blaeberry Bumblebee on clover at Corehead

Ali
Site and Community Officer