How the Duchy gets rid of the kingfisher.

See the column of native broad-leaf trees (central) with farmed spruce either side. Broadleaf are a part of a woodland's wildlife and the animals need them. But it's much easier for loggers to fell all of the trees than it would be to let those broadleaf remain and work around them to get at the conifers behind. (bit.ly/percl was locked by Facebook.)

   
The Prince of Wales often mentions his 'potty' concern for the environment and his 'green efforts' to make things better. However, when he says, "Get into Woodlands", he means that the exploitation of woods is lucrative. It might be 90 years since conifers were planted among the broadleaf in Perdredda Wood and now the loggers are busy. They are cutting those spruce but also the native trees that survived the first phase of land use.

The Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia) in Perdredda Wood. They are drawn to
2.8 acres under power-lines where nectar is available in July from big beds of brambles.

 
The best forest in Cornwall was owned by Port Elliot Estate until 2019. Spruce had been planted but indigenous trees were conserved in some acres and along the boundaries (between the plantations and the surrounding farm fields.) The broadleaf has been the life-saver for many species including wild birds, most of which will not visit spruce for food or nesting. (Woodpeckers this year preferred a dead broadleaf to the many spruce nearby, which harbour none of the insects that they collected for their chicks: video.)
Now, the tradition of letting broadleaf survive in the margins and along the streams is being abandoned: The margins are getting smaller/disappearing and all of the Alders that lined the streams are being cut down: survivor.
Essential to wildlife, a margin of broadleaf trees stands between the spruce and the farmland. Native trees also line a stream (on the left) that runs down to this western end of Perdredda (aerial view.) Streams inside are losing their trees: aqatree


1888 map and Google map.

When the Duchy of Cornwall acquired Perdredda Wood in 2019, they sent a man to see if he could cull some deer:
fcb
. Loggers began to grade and widen the old forest tracks, removing all wild plants and the soil that was under them. Before long, it could be seen that a simple instruction was being followed: ‘Clear some big areas and cut all trees in those areas.’ This is known as ‘clear-cutting’.


October 2020: The Duchy has set up a rota of three marksmen who arrive at the end of the day. They wait to pick off Roe deer that walk onto the newly cleared sections in the twilight. Each man brings a silencer and tripod with his rifle, locking his 4x4 with custom reg. number (e.g. “ROE 3“) inside the new steel gate. The deer will probably nibble at newly planted saplings but the amount of ‘culling’ is disproportional to the number of animals on the property: Not a penny is spent on counting them first.

i) Previously, foresters would drive over plant-life on the tracks and
  then it would grow back.
ii) In 2019, tracks were stripped, widened and slate gravel
  was pressed in.
The Underways track before and after. - Used by generations of locals for walking their dogs but now a wide steel gate makes access difficult.
.
  On Google Maps, the Wood looks as it did in 1888.
The sea is only two kilometres to the south but higher land in between reduces the impact of sea winds. All around is crop fields or pasture but wildlife survives where there are trees.
Warm water in the Gulf Stream arrives at Cornwall and
it generates mist under cold atmospheric conditions.

The warm Gulf Stream brings humidity to southeast Cornwall and there are good rates of plant growth. However, what remains of original woodland is mostly in places that cannot be developed (e.g. slopes next to rivers and estuaries.)
Species-rich places like Perdredda are hard to find but she’s being logged now as a great northern forest might be, like those in North America and Eurasia.

N.B. Viewed from the outside, the stands of spruce appear to be monoculture but there are many broadleaf among them which do not grow vertically at the same speed and, therefore, are hidden by the spruce. Using Google maps to view from above reveals many broadleaf in every area of Perdredda.
27/10/2019 Dense forest on this north-western slope was the main haunt of Perdredda's timid Roe deer. Other animals in the Wood have included badgers, tawny owls, buzzards, jays, woodpeckers, a kingfisher, a Jack Snipe (two sightings), song thrush, several small bird species including long-tailed tits and coal tits, bats, a fox, lizards, amphibians, butterflies and other insects. ~ Honey bees arrive in great number when the brambles are in flower under the power-lines.
How lovely were Perdredda's tracks in April 2019. After decades 
with a gentle custodian, Nature was starting to fill the gaps again.
If you paste 
50.385349, -4.337496 into Google Maps  and zoom right in, you will see the difference between the star-shaped spruce trees and the lighter-coloured broadleaf. If you return to the map later you will notice that you have developed a skill for spotting the broadleaf and that there were many throughout the forest. (Fresh images would show three naked areas, devoid of all trees.)
 
In March 2020, an Oil beetle was found in the in 2.8 acre plot that has no conifers because there are power-lines overhead: bit.ly/oilBe (then another one was 600 metres upstream from there: bit.ly/mOilb.)
This cold-hardy Violet Oil Beetle (Meloe violaceus) was active on 18/03/2020 in the 'butterfly zone'. Power-lines keep the foresters from utilizing that 2.8 acres but they could put one of their wide tracks through it to access the outer plantation.

This stump must be old. It was deep in the south-eastern
arm of Perdredda last year. Felling of such large trees
has not occurred in recent decades. There might be no
trees with this girth today.
  Perdredda has riparian habitat because it has natural springs and six or more slate-bed streams that merge into two main branches. (Those two merge at 50.387173, -4.334081 and continue north for about 300 metres before crossing under the A374 through a man-made weir.¹)
At one time, all trees in Perdredda were broadleaf, most of which is deciduous (called ‘hardwood’ by loggers.) When Sitka spruce were introduced, some acres were left in their natural state. Broadleaf also continued to grow among some of the spruce, often becoming taller than usual in competition for light with them, e.g. the top photo and aqatree. A uniquely 'Perdredda' heredity might exist among the original plant-life, e.g. The bluebell gene pool might be ancient.
¹(The weir prevents sticklebacks from swimming up into the woods' streams. Beavers, recently released nearby, will also never get past it.)

Meadowsweet on a part of the 'Underways' track used to fill the air with a cream-soda fragrance. Its substratum was removed by grading in summer 2019. Different wildflowers liked different places where the tracks get more sunlight. Some of the 20 species noticed so far might survive for a while on the last lengths of original track on the west side.
12 May 2020. Bluebells are found where the broadleaf still stand. On the right is a loggers' debris stack where they stopped after cutting into this rare native patch against the eastern fence.
Every time they chop, will they erase a bit more of the native bits where the bluebells can survive (15/06/2020.)
(12/05/2020) There are three modest stands of original broadleaf in Perdredda. This is where the biodiversity is and where woodpeckers get grubs for their nestlings: video
Looking out from the east-side broadleaf area (recently made smaller), there's "more light" now but the future's not bright for the bluebells: They will fail where broadleaf has been cut.

What's new?

  Between June and October 2019, the Duchy's contractor cut down every tree in three big areas: bit.ly/perocto (The central area had no spruce and everything cut there was native.) It was hoped that a line of broadleaf might be left standing which was along the north-western border at the top of the first slope they'd cleared, but those trees are gone now as wellbit.ly/whyo. (They were along 400 metres of the fence running east from the top of Berry Plantation: bit.ly/gratna.)
  By 08/01/2020, large trees in the bog habitat next to the east-west stream have fallen over where they are no longer shielded by adjacent trees. All but one of the water-loving alders along that stream have been cut. (One survives because it's on its southern side: aqatree.)
  The wild plants on the forest tracks have been erased(Sunlight reaches the tracks and at least 20 types of flowering plant had colonized them.)
27/10/2019 This slope had dense forest and Roe deer seemed to prefer it as a refuge. Conifers were here but note that the remaining debris also contains leaves and branches from broadleaf trees. There are thirty or more stumps of oaks and other broadleaf along the fence at the top; see bit.ly/whyo
March 2020. Most of Perdredda's tracks have
been worked and re-worked with slate gravel so
that they will never have plants on them again.
The same junction in 2016, had primroses in summertime.
  December 2019: Conifer saplings are being planted in place of the diverse flora that’s been removed. Nothing will restore the communities of small organisms that were on the mature broadleaf: the invertebrates, fungi, epiphytes (mosses, liverworts, and lichens.) Birds and squirrels needed the broadleaf.
  The pleasant meadow with log-pile visible on Google maps at 50.384837, -4.342052 has been made bare. (Its amphibian breeding pond was filled straight away.)

May 2020: Small saplings of a few broadleaf species have been planted along the stream in the eastern felled area, but a wood-pecker, jay or nuthatch can’t make much use of a 9 inch sapling. The kingfisher won't explore that stream now with no mature broadleaf to use as cover. (It seems the small population of Roe deer is being killed to protect those saplings.)
  Perdredda's unusual pollinator habitat should be protected. 

The rest of Perdredda will receive the same treatment in seasons to come. More logging and re-planting will ultimately turn the whole Wood into a plain crop with no wildlife.


Holly and oak were shown no mercy. ~ The central area that's been cleared
had no conifers. Sacks full of conifer saplings were seen nearby in December.
~ bit.ly/holoak
  Clear-felling is practiced across the UK and a quantity of wildlife disappears every time. Owners who suspect that wild species might damage their cash crops will keep quiet as what remains of the biodiversity is removed.


Prince Charles says, “Work with Nature” but his men show no compromise with Nature. They filled a solitary amphibian breeding pond straight away because it wasn't far from where their vehicles might go. A few years ago in a valley nearby, they cut this beautiful tree for no reason: bit.ly/kilhaw
Erosion waves in the rocky streams suggest that these might be very old streams, but that
didn't stop the Duchy from cutting a new track (and creating a huge bank of ploughed mud)
just feet from this spot. Aqatree shows severe damage to lower ground noticed in 2020.

In the areas now cleared, all of the water-loving Alder trees along the streams are gone. Alders stabilize wet land and enrich habitat, e.g. by shedding leaves which are eaten by aquatic insects.
First photographed in June 2019, along the east-west stream just before the loggers arrived:
1 June 2019. On damp land along the stream, Alders had grown tall
in competition for light with surrounding conifers. All are gone now.
At the base of one of the water-loving alders: broad leaves.

The alders grew right on the stream which runs deeper after rain.
The photo below shows the same place in January 2020.

A surviving Alder has been found in 2020: The east-west stream has just one Alder and three Ash trees now, on the south side which hasn't been felled yet: bit.ly/aqatree.

  On the other side of the village, the same thing has happened to a big part of Polbathic WoodBuzzards and Tawny owls cannot roost there anymore: bit.ly/polba

10 Nov '19. It's easy to spot the broadleaf among the conifers at this time of the year.

Every summer, buzzards would choose a place to nest away from human disturbance. Last autumn, their fledglings could be heard all day in trees not far from the main east-west track. There are none this year (2019) as the courting adults were scared off by the loggers in June.

  With biodiversity being lost everywhere, you might think that the Duchy would leave a native tree standing when it’s not inconvenient to do so, but that's not what happens. Their loggers spare nothing if it's easy to cut in an area being cleared and they'll step out of their way to remove any tree: bit.ly/kilhaw
Aug 2019. Roe deer are indigenous and are not the animals that we associate
with car crashes. They are territorial and retreat from human activity,
they do not go around in herds damaging young trees. (2020)

  When the Duchy’s contractor replied to written concerns in June, it was only to offer fanciful reassurances, e.g. "...the operations will.. invite regeneration of numerous species as the canopy lets in more light” .. No canopy remains where they have worked and their cutting of fence-line broadleaf shows that they are willing to leave no margins. To anyone who’s known the Wood for some time, they deny that they are destroying anything, e.g. The wood's two permanent ponds, where large frogs and palmate newts had spawned every Spring, were filled and one was then said to have never existed: bit.ly/duchypath
  The Prince of Wales promotes the eradication of Grey Squirrels and once he posed with a fluffy Red Squirrel toy. Does this really mean that he plans to reintroduce the Red Squirrel in Cornwall?

Grey squirrel outside the main gate some years ago, but they are usually skittish. There was ample timber for the Duchy to take away in 2019, in spite of the squirrels' nibbling. Haulage companies collected logs for four months.

  In a recent episode of BBC Countryfile, it was told that most baby Red squirrels die during the felling of trees because they are still in the dreys when the trees fall down. (Some loggers leave a tree standing when it has a drey in it, although living in an isolated tree is also precarious for the squirrels.)
The clear-felling in Perdredda confirms that the Duchy never lets any tree get in its way. Grey squirrel dreys in its forests might provide a convenient excuse for cutting everything? As Perdredda is becoming quickly degraded through the cutting of native trees, it will soon be poor habitat for any type of squirrel. Therefore, the Duke’s interest in squirrel control seems more to do with extracting a maximum yield than with bringing back the Red Squirrel. (His support for Grey squirrel eradication might help create a persona that seems ‘scientific’, but he never mentions the plight of so many other forest species facing Britain’s huge demand for wood.)

  The Countryfile guest said that our conservation laws have no control where felling operations are taking place (i.e. in most of the privately owned woods in Britain) and that forestry legislation is outdated. (It's 800 years since any real progress has been made in favour of appreciating natural woodland: ox/woodland?) Nobody tags along to see what loggers are cutting down. Shouldn't there be a law that protects a certain percentage of all woodland sites from being 100% utilised for timber?

A few years ago, about 1.5 miles west in the Seaton River valley, it might be argued that this tree wasn't officially even on Duchy land. They didn't deny that they cut it but suggested that 'luckily, it hasn't been poisoned'. The opposite is true and the string of smaller hawthorns connected at their roots was also poisoned.


Large frogs on 17/02/2019. The first thing the new foresters did was fill their two breeding ponds. The best pond, above, was in a disused track which the loggers re-opened and connected with a brand-new shortcut. - The second photo is the track on 25/12/2019, minus vegetation and pond. (The other pond was in a meadow on higher ground and not directly in the way of the vehicles, but the loggers filled it immediately and their spokesman later said that it never existed.) more pics

03/02/2019. Looking east to Dartmoor, the bare trees on the right in the fore-ground have all been cut by the loggers. All were broadleaf. (This shows just the eastern half of them. The fence turns right/south at the eastern-most tree.)



27/10/2019 Looking east across the first area cleared, this was half of the widest stand of trees in Perdredda, which made the woods seem big and resourceful. The trees gave sound-proofing so that no traffic could be heard in summer when you walked the east-west tracks, south of the stream. The Roe deer liked it here and no people ever seemed to explore it. A fair amount of broad-leaf was mixed with the conifers and there was the line of mature broad-leaf at the top, next to the fence. The conifers on the right/south will obviously be cut at a later date. Some have since fallen over because they are rooted in bog next to the stream and have lost the support of the adjacent trees logged (see newer images below.) The taller of the trees on the far left side of the slope are also gone now: Some small ones remain which are outside the boundary fence. bit.ly/whyo
A dismissive attitude toward wildlife only encourages harmful activity in the surrounding countryside: bit.ly/setfer and bit.ly/cordee


28/09/2019. The trees lying on the ground against the western slope are broadleaf, not conifers. Their foliage is visible in the next photo.


28/09/2019. The foliage of those felled broadleaf is visible, lying against the cleared slope.

















In July 2017, Silver-washed Fritillaries were numerous under the power-lines. They loved this lone Buddleia. (There's no other buddleia for miles around and even Hummingbird Hawk Moths were coming to this one from their habitat in the coastline vegetation.) These striking butterflies appeared in 2017. No earlier records are known and I saw none between 2005 and 2017. Adults emerge in July and only a handful live on into early August. It's a 'colony' of them here, surviving because of the big beds of brambles that provide nectar from June onward. When the Duchy decides to log the plantation to the west of this site, they will put their version of a 'track' straight through. bit.ly/sourceofbeauty



10/11/2019. The remains of deciduous trees on the fence-line at the top of the western slope. There is a line of about thirty such stumps (or tight groups of smaller stumps) that measure at least 15 inches in diameter, along 400 metres of fence.





27/10/2019 Part of the second cleared area. This is higher ground between the eastern
and western arms of the Wood. No conifers were growing here.

27/10/2019 A third area felled in the southeastern arm. Broad-leaf trees were growing here too. - See some tall ones now exposed on the far side, left of centre.
Notice the broad-leaf debris at bottom-left.

One of Perdredda's clean streams runs through its eastern arm. It helps if there are alder trees along the streams when the waters rise and run fast, but the Duchy of Cornwall cuts the alders : bit.ly/aqatree   (p.s. The kingfisher I once saw will no longer make its way along streams that have no tree cover at all.)
How nice it's been in former years, this spot close to the front
gate. People were walking dogs here regularly until this June.
No dogs have been walked since July 2019.

27/10/2019 Black puddles have appeared on the forest tracks and the smell of oil lingers in the still forest air, which used to be perfectly clean.

09/2017  The 'upper clearing' where the second amphibian breeding pond was, on the right past the logs.

It didn't look much in winter but the place would be good bird habitat in summer and sometimes full of froglets. (The logs can be seen on Google maps by entering: 50.384816, -4.342173.)

Jan 2019  The pond was filled immediately last June. It was on the right, not in the direct path of the loggers. Much vegetation is gone, including lots of broad-leaf saplings. Bio-austerity is the hallmark of Duchy presence and is very evident in the Seaton River valley.

Now is a time of ‘woodland propaganda’. There is a new article in which the Forestry Commission suggests that loggers have brought woodlands back to an ancient quantity, but they don’t mention that medieval woods were full of biodiversity. Men are employed who copy-and-paste pleasing phrases about their felling operations, knowing that very few will walk in and see for themselves.

On 25/12/19, white bags full of baby conifer trees were in a couple of places near the south-eastern cleared land.

By 08/01/2020, large trees in bog habitat by the stream have fallen over where they are no longer shielded by adjacent trees.

By 08/01/2020, large trees in bog habitat by the stream have fallen over where they are no longer shielded by adjacent trees.
Not far from the fallen conifers, this broadleaf has also been destabilized by the loggers, has fallen across the fence onto the farm next door.
In winter, it's easier to notice how foresters previously left a margin of broadleaf trees between the alien conifers and the farmer's field. Today, the Duchy doesn't show that respect for Nature.: bit.ly/whyo

20.05.2017. Blue Dor beetles are almost always seen to be solitary but something in soil on the east-west track that had attracted these together. A rare sight. All soil has been scraped off that track now.

08.01.2020. Where there was a pleasant meadow full of saplings and a pond that attracted frogs, newts and dragonflies, there's now just a road. Most of the track surface in Perdredda has been widened, scraped and compacted with slate fragments twice now. The plants will not "grow back" as suggested by the siviculture.co.uk man.
Empis pennipes in June 2019, shortly before the Duchy erased its foraging habitat.
We get a sense that woods are the last refuge for many species of insects. Therefore, we live in the hope that private woods are managed with a consideration for wildlife. (Empis pennipes fed almost exclusively on the nectar inside the corolla tubes of Herb Robert flowers in Underways Lane, until last summer.)
See another insect at Orange Tips
Feb 2020. The gate is now half a gate and the Wood stands open to the main road. Not really 'stewardship', is it?
In April 2020, a steel gate has replaced the wooden one. The public is locked out for the first time. How soon will phase 2 of the logging follow?

This west-side track leading up from a pleasant flat track above the stream that was getting good bluebell growth some years, but the whole path and this upward bend is blocked with fallen trees now and the back-drop is a naked slope where the thickest vegetation used to be.
8 March 2020. The same place as in the photo above. Fallen trees block the stream-side path in many places now, having been exposed to wind after the adjacent slope was clear-felled. Note the dead fern.
Taken in May 2017, it's doubtful the undergrowth on the low track, just meters east of photo above, will ever be the same. The dense wood beyond the stream (to the right) is now a bare slope.
11/07. The contractors have been back to clear the trees that fell over. You can
see the path that branches upward which was such a nice place before May last year.

Above and below: In winter, it's easier to notice how foresters previously left a margin of broadleaf trees between the alien conifers and the farmer's field. Today, the Duchy doesn't show that respect for Nature.. bit.ly/whyo

Below: One section of the fence-line broadleaf that was cut:


Roe deer and Buzzards need a distance between themselves and human activity. In Perdredda, both have lost the biggest stands of mixed trees that they preferred. Sadly, the Duchy has three men who patrol woods, each with his own 4x4 and a rifle with silencer and tripod. Witnessed in Perdredda now, they don't survey the number of deer, they just guess how many to shoot.

  A brand-new find, this cold-hardy Meloe violaceus deserves conservation. 

Other wildlife seen in 2020 can be viewed here: 2020

The stumps in the foreground are obviously not conifers. Note the zone of broadleaf (north of the stump) next to the conifers that haven't been cut yet. (04/04/2020)

Broadleaf stumps are easy to find on the cleared slope. I regret that I didn't explore this area more beforehand. It had personality.

See the album at: Orange Tips

August 2020: The Roe deer have become extremely skittish and it takes careful stalking and 60x zoom to get any photos now. The Duchy’s three snipers have taken away the peaceful quality of wildlife sightings.
The Roe deer now are hiding at the extreme ends of the wood now. I'd be surprised if there are ten left.
The Roe deer are hiding at the extreme ends of the wood now. I'd be surprised if there are ten left.

Let's keep the colour in Perdredda Wood. 30.05.2020 (see bit.ly/SEpe)

11/05/2020 The woodpeckers' dead tree stands apart from what's left of the broadleaf (but they did manage to rear young in it: bit.ly/SEpe). On the right, the loggers' debris stack covers land that did have bluebells last year.
They've cut into the best section of broadleaf in Perdredda, but do seem to have shown it some mercy. Walk 40 metres through those trees and you come to a bare farming landscape.
50.382873, -4.332165

Contractor in July 2019: "It is always gratifying to know that local people are enjoying the woodland and all that it has to offer; woodlands are almost unique in providing such a range of benefits from a single resource, including social, environmental and economic services." ~ but that locked gate has caused most of the regular dog-walkers to go away and stay away, and there's no sign that it's a temporary obstacle, September 2020.


"We hide now at the ends of the woods. The snipers never count us before they shoot."


The 2020 generation. See www.bit.ly/SEpe for more.
                         "Please notice us and then defend us."

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