Jo’s First Roving Patrol
On an overcast and slightly muggy day, I, together with my dogs Sophie and Hywel, undertook our first Roving Patrol as part of the returning RSPB volunteer programme at Sherwood.
It is a lovely time of year to be out in the woods. The trees are in full summer leaf, making a thick canopy through which the sunshine (when it is here) penetrates in bright shafts. The bracken has now reached a height where it is nearly impossible to see over it, so views have become extremely limited and the woods are more mysterious, with winding paths and encroaching vegetation. It is much more challenging for my dogs too, who delight in chasing sticks and squirrels, both of which are a lot harder to follow!
As I went around my litter picking route, I was surprised to see that the rowan berries are already beginning to turn orange, which felt like the first hint of autumn. The wild raspberries are getting ripe, little points of red, and the blackberry harvest promises to be good judging by the number of flowers now on the brambles.
My way took me past one of the strangest of the old oaks, called Medusa, up near Asserts Meadow. This great tree stump looks rather like an elaborate jelly mould, from which regrowth stems are still growing upwards and are covered in leaf. This is a favourite with children, although there were none when we went past today.
Further along I found a patch of purple foxgloves, almost the last now around. They are giving way to later flowering plants, like the small blue self-heal I found in the grassy paths. In the grasses along the sides of the paths there were loads of beautiful, soft brown moths, outnumbering all the other butterflies and moths I saw. To my surprise I also saw several fungi, which I thought only came out later in the year.
My way also took me past a very strange sight, of a very old and rotten piece of silver birch branch, which was virtually just the bark, hanging over a very young oak sapling branch. It looked as if it had been carefully placed there, like an art installation or a conjuring trick.
I collected about half a black bin bag of rubbish while I was out. Most of this was discarded tissues and wet wipes or drinks containers. These do not bio-degrade, so please take them home with you rather than decorating the forest with them.