There is an abundance of tree and bird varieties at the Lodge. Being situated within a valley, which is sheltered, damp, and suprisingly humid, it creates a perfect habitat for folk and fauna alike. As the seasons come and go, substantial changes happen to the natural landscape of the valley. Here are just some examples of the tree and bird life we have living here at the Lodge.
Our kings of the woodland are vast in size, with deep, aged wrinkled trunks. Every autumn they produce a huge number of acorns that we pick and make acorn coffee with. Used a lot during wartime Britain, this acorn coffee has a very fruitful taste and perfumed smell. You should use the ground roasted acorns spatially however as it is very tannic on the palette. Brewed with a little honey and no milk is how we prefer it.
Planted in accordance to the estate's land manager, the limes line much of the route towards the Lodge. Like their neighbours, the oaks, our limes rise high into the sky supported by their weathered, thick trunks. Every summer we love to make Lime Blossom Tea from its flowers. When one is in need of a cleansing hit of freshness, the acidity of the Lime Blossom in hot water is a perfect way to revive some energy.
The pine woodlands on the estate are predominantly ancient woodland. Growing right beside the Lodge itself, the woodlands are a haven for wildlife and wild edible foods. From our beloved wild garlic, to chickweed and horseradish, these wild foods thrive from the pines large, open canopies. These canopies flood the woodland ground with both sunlight and rain to give a perfect recipe for growth.
As one of the most memorable birds to witness in the British Isles, the kingfisher is short with a long beak, fashioning an array of vivacious orange and blue feathers. The kingfishers that visit the Lodge come around the middle of the summer to make their nests and raise their young next to riverside. The river is a great source of food for the birds, catching anything from dragonflies to fish of course, such as stickleback.
Found beside spots of fresh water, these birds are at the very top of their particular food chain. Herons consume anything from small fish, eels, and rodents, to even small river insects like grasshoppers. Here at the Lodge we see them flying low over the river in their darted position, presumably on the look out for those poor unbeknown fish!
Hearing them before seeing, these amazingly decorative birds thump the trunk of a tree either to assert their territory or call out for a mate. The woodpeckers preferred habitats are old, matured trees that already have dying or brittle branches. The age-old question is - why don’t they ever get a headache? Well it is down to two things, first, a very strong structural frame for a skull, in particular in front of their brain, and secondly, a layer of shock-absorbing material in between the beak and bone that cushions the blow.
We like to take inspiration from these little garden birds. Having a long reputation for being great foragers, both the female and male bullfinches nip berries and buds off nearby bushes to feed their young. The parent bullfinches are actually vegetarians but feed their offspring with meaty feasts, such as spiders and garden insects. In the summertime, bullfinches over produce so to guarantee a certain amount survive throughout winter. To court a female bullfinch, the male goes up and shows off his gatherings of twigs in his mouth!
Blue and Great Tits
The most abundant of our birds here at the Lodge, the tits inhabit both our woodlands and garden. The two birds have much the same diet. Both change from season to season, feeding on small insects and bugs in summer, to feeding on berries, seeds and nuts in winter. One particular story of the blue tit was in the early 20th Century, where there was an outbreak of blue tits breaking into aluminum milk tops left outside the doors of unknowing, snoozing residents. This happened all over Britain – an example of how brilliant bird skills can be transferred throughout their populations. If you still have the milk the old-fashioned way, look out for those milk-loving mischievous blue tits!