Day 3 -
Data collection began today and my team decided after some discussion that we would investigate the preferences of woodpeckers when drilling holes in the lower alpine zone.
I was looking forward to it, the great spotted woodpecker (of which there were many) is quite a charismatic little bird (I think), so I was glad to have a bit of an excuse to go and watch them all day. It was interesting to us through, because on the previous trips we observed that there were quite a lot of wood piles around the trees. Our lecturers soon revealed that most deadwood in the forest is cleared along with untidy looking foliage to create a more aesthetic look. There are probably other reasons, like to prevent possible fires but we did want to know if this would at all effect the ecosystem. The woodpecker seemed the perfect choice to investigate this as they themselves are a keystone species which provide for an array of other organisms.
We firstly wanted to know how many of the trees have woodpecker holes (any drill mark that could fit a blue tit inside)? It’s all well and good determining tree preference but does that mean every tree of a specific kind has holes or only 1/10,000? However, we also wanted to measure the characteristics of trees even without signs of activity to identify an reliable trend. The majority of the day therefore, was spent on some transects, giving lots and lots of different trees hugs with a measuring tape. No complaints, I live giving trees hugs.
It was is a special forest to work in, the trees were all magnificently straight and tall, it was all a mix of pine; spruce, larch and stone pine. The trees were old and dense but there was plenty of light and the forest floor was a nice early green colour from the grass carpeting the ground. The smell was lovely and there were families of birds hopping around everywhere. Some fledgling black redstart were quite happy to sit on a stump in the sun and be brought food, whiles some coal tit parents relentlessly fluttered back and forth between the nest with beaks of food.
On the walk back between the forest and hostel there was a cluster of 4 or 5 old larch trees with some fairly active “peeping”.
Nuthatches were wandering up the trunks of one tree and then flitting back down to the that of another. They seemed quite content in their nut feast and paid little attention to me, or so I thought. I was looking up when I noticed a little bird, hanging upside down from the branch of a tree looking at me and my camera.
I stayed and watched them for a while before heading back to the hostel.