Newfield Spring Wood

Please see new website here:

Newfield Spring Wood is a 30 acre, beautiful, ancient blue bell woodland adjacent to Friend’s Field. Heather was able to buy the woodland after her mother died 7 years ago and is responsible for managing the woodland. The aim and vision in the management plan is to enhance bio-diversity at the same time as restoring it as a working woodland with opportunities for education and nature connection. (Ecological survey report here and the plan of operations here.)

A wide range of groups and friends have been involved in the management and conservation work on a “work for well being” basis. We are keen observers of wildlife (bird life report here and ringing numbers on sheet 3 of chart here).

Woodland management includes thinning oaks and sycamores, clearing holly to make glades, coppicing an area of recent planting, fencing and hazel coppicing. The main group of volunteers are a group of women calling ourselves “women unboughed” . We work in the wood one weekday afternoon each week. We are always keen to hear from women wanting to come along. We also have work days in the wood open to all, usually at weekends. The next one will be for hazel coppicing late January or early February. If you are interested to know more about the women unboughed or other work days, contact Heather.

Coppiced oak

Volunteer work days on Friend’s Field engage with the wood and its products. Oaks have been used to make our workers shelter, large holly trunks are now the posts for our compost loo mark 2, smaller trunks have been bashed in as fencing posts around our orchard and long stems make the weavers. More information about the wood is in this article published this Spring in the Small Woods magazine, here.

Other groups have got to know and value the wood. Our local Woodcraft folk, children aged between 8 and 12, are regular visitors and friends of the wood. Green woodworkers run workshops in the wood and have designed and, with volunteers, built our compost toilet and are helping finish cladding our worker’s shelter. If you are interested to find out more about green woodworking workshops in the wood or elsewhere, contact Neil Trinder:

Heather is very interested to engage a wide range of people with the wood and is interested to hear from anyone who thinks their group may benefit from being involved in the wood in some way. Get in touch and take a look at this Charter for Wellbeing of Woods and People which gives some idea of responsibilities and expectations.

The wood and its position adjacent to Friend’s Field gives opportunity for a range of crafts, research and livelihoods as yet to be explored! Charcoal burning, bio-char production, greys squirrel as game meat, coppice crafts, woodland ecology are some that come to mind. Do get in touch if you have an interest:

A year in Newfield Spring Wood. 1st October 2019 to end September 2020

30 acres of woodland supporting a myriad of life. Here is a list of activities and health of the wood this year.

Covid 19 restrictions from March 2020 have limited engagement projects and workshops this year but the wood has benefited from the management from a core group of volunteers who also have benefited enormously at this difficult time from being in the wood together. The relationship with Don Catchment Rivers Trust is new this year with co-benefits of flood prevention, development of new skills and new social contacts. 

Management. Women unboughed vis. Women working in the wood. (WWW) 

A core four of Ava, Christine, Jen and Heather have worked in the wood once a week throughout the year. Covid 19 H and S guidelines were drawn up March 2019. 

Hils, Maja, Mary, Sarah with 2 year old Oscar have joined occasionally. Michelle and Andrea are welcome new members of www.  Meeting each other and working in and for the wood has contributed greatly to our mental and physical wellbeing.

Work undertaken: Holly clearance in north of wood, creating “Fallen Oak Glade”. 30 x 30 meters cleared extending the open canopy created by two large limbs having fallen from mature oak tree.

Tree guards around consequent tree seedlings to protect from deer browsing. Holly stakes prepared for “spielings” in flood prevention work..

Felling squirrel damaged sycamore and beech in “Brookside Wood”, the area S.W of Lightning glade used by woodcraft folk for shelter building. Felled trees left lying as dead wood and available for flood prevention work.

No work again this 2nd year on Butterfly coppice.

2 volunteer hazel coppicing days 18th January and 1st February. 15 volunteers. 12 hazel stools coppiced, products sorted and stacked for bean poles and coppice crafts.

2 flood prevention days with Don Catchment River Trust.(DCRT)

February, (pre covid) 12 volunteers built a “spieling” across a gulley 100m along the path in from the wood and infilled other gullies with brash bundles. 

DCRT contracted professional arborist felled 4 x 12” diameter sycamore and beech for the leaky dams and part of relevant woodland thinning. September, with covid restrictions, 6 volunteers in the morning and again in the afternoon built 2 “leaky dams” across the stream 100m West of “Brookside wood”

Woodland health

Ash tree survey. 6 big ashes possible signs of die back with 60 to75% canopy cover and a few dead twigs at extremities, including big ash by the field gate which poses a risk. Checked with SRWLT Nabil Abbas who confirmed 60%canopy cover and advice to assess next summer if static or progressive before felling advised. Willing to collaborate with the SRWLT ash tree management plans. An ash on the field edge stream on Lightwood Farm side collapsed over onto the Lightwood field. Chris Green, Lightwood farmer, came to assess. Brief discussion with Chris who thinks the ashes have the disease.

All hazel coppice healthy but deer nibbling on several young stools. Butterfly coppice, growth of all coppiced oak, chestnut, willow, birch. Major squirrel nibbling on sweet chestnut coppice bark. Newly arrived broom spreading and growth bramble throughout. No wind burn this year on chestnuts.

Planted hawthorn on northern edge, some doing well above tree guards but loss this year, maybe bullock trampling. Replanted blackthorn and alder not survived.

Major limb fall from oak in North of wood (creating “fallen oak glade”).No signs of fungus or rot. Other limb falls from ash and beech. 

Squirrel damage on branches and young trunks of oak continues.

DCRT. Ecological survey of the stream, necessary to obtain planning permission for the leaky dams. No evidence of white clawed crayfish, water voles or otters. 7 sites for leaky dams suggested. Planning permission obtained for up to 22 dams

Wildlife. Highlights.

Bird ringing by Ava, a BTO licenced ringer, has continued (see exel report). Highlights of mist netting sessions due to new ringing sites created, produced an increased number of redwing and a beautiful male Fieldfare.

Bluetits and Great Tits continue to be the most numerous birds at the feeding station.

The small bird boxes produced 42 new bluetit fledgelings which were ringed and all but one fledged. Still no breeding birds in the large nest boxes.( Last year there were 50 fledglings including bluetits, great tits and one wren.)

Construction of a new Barn Owl box big enough for a breeding pair is underway. Hopefully this will attract a pair of Barn Owls to breed next year.

Tree bumble bees took over a wrens nest in a nest box. A colony of mining bumble bees were exposed by digging by a badger

Buzzards, regular sighting but no return to their nest this year.

Tawny owls heard frequently and a fledgling seen.(Tawny owl nest box remains empty)

Sparrow hawk seen and frequent evidence of it’s feather plucked remains of its prey.

Kestrel sighted over field. Kestrel box remains empty.

The young barn owl made a few visits to the barn owl box leaving pellets but not occupying as it did last year. 

A woodcock sited at dusk flying low into the wood.

A baby badger sighted at dusk at bottom of oak slope in July.

Squirrels this year taken to eating plastic food containers, with or without food inside! Also sharp teeth nibbled tree guards and shredded empty plastic bags suggest it is the actual plastic they are after not necessarily the food inside.

Ava’s movement camera positioned in a range of locations produced very interesting results, including two male human metal detectors, women with children “at home” in Bolsover Glade, also roe deer calmly munching seedlings, badgers to and fro on their paths, a heron, fox and rats coming out of holes in the stream bank, squirrels enjoying getting into the squirrel proof bird feeders and knocking them off the wire, with badgers coming to eat up the fallen pea nuts.

Two big ponds dug in the field near the woodland edge contracting through Wild Scapes. A Natural England funded project specifically to benefit great created newts. In 5 years first newts may have got here travelling along stream and through damp woodland from nearest newt pond half a km away. Two hibernariums built ready for them on banks of each pond. Mallards are frequent visitors.  

Two bullocks have made several incursions into the wood this summer. Chris Green notified and some fence repair work done. 

Structures, fixtures and fittings and craft. 

Ava, Christine, Jen and Heather. Construction of steps with hand rail over gully to the North of the wood. 

Neil Trinder and friends. Compost Loo mark 2 repairs to nibbled outflow pipe and netting. Staples hammered into steps to prevent slipping. 

Heather and Sarah. Four rustic chairs made from coppiced products and upholstered with inner tubes to compliment the settee and stools for Bolsover Glade.

Joe and Andrew. Saw 2 one meter sections from fallen oak branch and axe split and crafted into stool seat.

Joe, Andrew, Sarah, Neil and Heather. Devise and rig removable high “blue sky” shelter in Bolsover Glade

No further developments from Engineers without Borders on zip wire project to extract logs. Assume close of the project.

People engagement

Extinction Rebellion winter solstice greenery gathering and fire celebration.

Woodcraft young people, or Babes in the Wood, no activity this year.

But young friends very welcome

Plans for next year

Engage organisations working with children and youth groups to take advantage of the wood, now we have a large shelter, particularly those disadvantaged through Covid 19.

Continue Leaky Dam building with DCRT

Re start a coppice and standards section of Butterfly Coppice.

Select a holly clearance area.

Survey woodland edge for possible 20 meter coppice

Develop climate resilience by increasing biodiversity of tree species. Maybe horn beam and lime.

Research bark ringing for large sycamore coppice over shading hazel coppice.

Continue hazel coppicing January/February 2021

Repeat ash tree survey Summer 2021

13th December 2020