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Autumn News from Sherwood Forest

By Christine Paulson, Forest Ranger

It’s been an interesting few weeks at Sherwood Forest, so Amby our General Manager asked me to write a blog. First I had to look on the internet to find out what a blog is and how to write one!  (I wonder if there are two types of people, those who like to blog and those who get excited about antlers, snuffle holes and poo).

As it turns out, there’s no secret to blogging, it’s just writing about what you know. So here’s an update on what’s been happening at Sherwood Forest this Autumn – something I know lots about!

Fully Booked at the Bug Hotel

Exciting news to kick off with; we have just finished work on our fabulous new 5 star bug hotel.  Our long term residents, whose names are in tiny writing on the blackboard, (Mr Spider and Mrs Ladybug -looks like she’s American!) will soon be enjoying their new lodgings. We’re hoping there will be a few more guests to enjoy the facilities with them before too long.

Oh deer, what a racket!

Next, our fallow deer began to get amorous recently as the rutting season began.  Sometimes, like last year, this happens quietly, apart from the occasional battle of the bucks. This year though it began noisily, with guests reporting strange roaring and grunting noises in the forest, and one family being awakened by a large buck bellowing outside the cabin.

On our last dusk walk we found two ‘stands’ where a macho fallow buck has been courting the ladies and repelling other suitors. This consists of  bellowing, strutting, thrashing bushes and trees, churning and scenting muddy ‘scrapes’ with wee, and rubbing scent glands on branches – very attractive to the ladies.  And then, to top it all, during Night Vision (while listening to yet more bellowing), the family who had earlier been woken by the noisy buck announced that they had found an antler!  And probably because I was almost falling on the ground with excitement, they gave it to me. It is now proudly displayed at the Forest Retreat.

Do we have a new resident?

Again on a Dusk Watch we made another exciting discovery.  A badger had been seen in the area, and I spotted a large, brand new hole, with loads of snuffle holes and large scratches looking very like badger claw marks, close to one of my dusk walk routes.

We are keeping an eye on it and if it turns out to be a badger sett I will show it to the Forestry Commission and adjust the route I take on Dusk Watch to avoid it, as badgers are protected and we mustn’t disturb them.  But maybe it’s a large rabbit (who strangely wants to live next door to foxes!)

What to look forward to at Sherwood Forest

  • More excitement from the deer; towards the end of the rut we should see bucks clashing antlers as we did last year during Night Vision.
  • The story of the badger might (or might not!) develop.
  • We may hear the strange and memorable churring song of the Nightjar again next year.  Nightjars nest on the ground, and last year we were lucky enough to hear them regularly on Night Vision walks until they migrated. This year we haven’t heard them as the area they nested in has become too overgrown but the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is working with us to try to bring them back.
  • And lastly, the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust are so excited about our work that they are keen to work with us on more projects and even to carry out bird watch groups due to the diversity we have created.  All good news!