Exciting Times in Coldfall Wood

Dear Readers, after nearly three years and many, many delays, it looks as if Muswell Hill Playing Field, which is next to Coldfall Wood, is finally going to get its wildflower meadow. Two big patches have been staked out – one has been completely rotavated and the other, which already had a variety of grassland plants growing last year, has been rotavated in strips. Next week, children from Coldfall and Eden Primary Schools will come with their scarecrows and will help with the seeding. We are all very excited at the prospect of improving the biodiversity here, and I will keep you posted over the next few months as things develop.

At the moment, the main wildlife is a flock of crows, who are also very excited at all the juicy earthworms and beetle larvae that the rotavator has turned up. The main problem once seeded will be the pigeons, I suspect, who are very fond of grain. Let’s hope that the scarecrows will also be ‘scare-pigeons’. Certainly some of the scarecrows that I saw last week looked completely terrifying, so even if they don’t upset the birds they’ll certainly give the rest of us nightmares. I shall provide photos of the scary creations next week.

Crow making the most of the banquet

There will be a fine array of native plants, including wild angelica, red campion, white campion, ox-eye daisy, cowslip, meadow buttercup, hedge parsley, common knapweed, greater mullein, lady’s bedstraw, musk mallow, garlic mustard, selfheal, teasel and vetch, so there should be something here for any passing pollinator. The soil here is heavy clay but it didn’t look too claggy, so I am optimistic that we’ll get a good show. Haringey Council have also agreed to maintain the meadow, so hopefully it won’t revert quickly to perennial weeds like thistle as some meadows have. Watch this space.

In the meantime, there’s lots going on in the woods themselves. There are the very first flower on the blackthorn beside the Playing Fields – soon, these bushes will be a mass of white flowers.

There’s the last of the cherry plum…

Some not-altogether-natural crocuses and daffodils…

And this is a very fine fungus. I’m thinking beefsteak fungus, but I shall have to ask my resident expert.

There was a pair of very active nuthatches looking for insects in this dead branch, yet another reason for keeping deadwood wherever possible.

There has been a lot of very vigorous cutting back and treatment of the Japanese Knotweed. I will be fascinated to see how quickly it recovers (it’s usually quite a battle to get rid of a thicket as impressive as this one was in its heyday).

I caught a glimpse of a cherry tree in amongst the houses on Osier Crescent (just the other side of the field) and it was so magnificent that I had to go and have a closer look. I’m sure it gives a lot of pleasure to whoever looks at it.

And this cat looked pretty impressed too…

There’s water in the ‘wet woodland’ part of the woods…

The crows are hanging out in the trees overlooking the stream and the fields – there must have been thirty of them cawing and carrying on, and they all took off when an unfortunate buzzard flew past (probably one of the pair that live in the cemetery).

There are still catkins on the hazel…

The hornbeams are doing their frozen dance, the result of coppicing when they were very young which was never repeated, and has left them with multiple trunks…

and look, here’s a parakeet, just checking us out and making sure that we’re behaving ourselves.

We are so lucky to have ancient woodland so close by. It is such a wonderful space to explore, and already punches above its weight in terms of the variety and number of plants and animals who live here. It will be interesting to see what the meadow attracts over the next few months.


5 thoughts on “Exciting Times in Coldfall Wood

  1. Liz Norbury

    It will be great to hear more about this project as it develops. And I love the cherry tree – and the cat!

  2. chrisswan94

    We are lucky too to have so many habitats on our doorstep too. During lockdown, our daily local walk cycled around different types of habitat. I started photographing plants and butterflies which became a bit of an obsession. We have a wildflower meadow in a local park which the council plant but is always a pleasant sight in the summer. I do love the ring-necked parakeets. They haven’t made it to Worcester but I have seen them in Birmingham close to the Botanical Gardens.


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