Monday, 7 January 2019

Kentle Wood in early January

It has been over a year since I last visited Kentle Wood and as I strolled along its rides I began to wonder why I had bothered to return. To be fair, very few places have much to offer at this time of the year and, being only twenty years old and lacking mature trees, the area has a long way to go before it develops a rich flora and fauna.

The name 'Kentle' is rather obscure and the area has been known over the centuries as Kentloo, Kentlelowe, etc. A burial mound is said to have once existed here, created for someone known as 'Centel', and may be the origin of the word. A.E.Brown's book, Early Daventry provides some information on this matter.

Teasels were silhouetted starkly against the lead-grey sky as I approached the wood. Their heads seemed to be empty of seeds, with goldfinches being the most likely plunderers. 

Teasels no longer had any seeds to offer. Near Kentle Wood, Daventry.
7 January, 2019
I zipped my coat up as I faced the biting wind, regretting my decision not to bother with a scarf. What on earth was I doing out here when I could be at home, snug and warm? As I pointed out in my blog, 'Burning off the Christmas Calories' an urban walk is more likely to turn up flowers and other interesting features.

Some species of lichen are extremely hardy and their thick encrustations on elder branches suggested that they, at least, found conditions to their liking.

Lichens, probably mainly Xanthoria parietina, on an elder branch.
Near Kentle Wood, Daventry, 7 January, 2019
Hazels too were flourishing, their catkins dancing in the wind. The catkins are, of course. the male flowers. The tiny red female organs are far more discreet. In my photograph one example is sited directly above a male catkin but that is not always the case.

The tiny female flowers of hazel are a venous blood colour.
Kentle Wood, 7 January, 2019
The hazels are coppiced on a regular cycle, the cut traditionally being only a few inches above the ground so I was surprised to find that at Kentle Wood there was a foot, or maybe eighteen inches of stool beneath the 'poles'. The appearance of the plants suggested that the next coppicing is due soon.

Hazel about ready for coppicing. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
7 January, 2019
This was generally a winter job for farm workers when there was little other work available. Coppicing would provide a crop of long, straight poles for wattle and daub, for hurdles, for hop poles and so on.

A few small fungi were growing on a dead twig but, remembering my New Year's vow, I resolutely turned away from them and, eyes streaming in the wind, headed for home and a hot coffee.

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