Some would argue that humans have been losing their connection with nature. Some authors, such as Richard Louv, have even used the term “nature deficit disorder” to describe American children who no longer play outdoors and have been disconnected with nature.
We share our 5 acre woodland with a host of natural inhabitants. Over half the wood remains relatively undisturbed and in the other half we try to encourage nature by carefully managing the woodland to increase species diversity, putting up nestboxes and creating a pond. As such, it is an ideal location to get close to nature and to build bonds with it. By spending time in our tree canopy platform/hide you get closer to the birds and hear their songs and learn their habits. Peering into a nestbox in May you will see their eggs and young hatching and fledging. Dipping your net into the pond you can immerse yourself in the diversity of insects and larva. In late summer and autumn you can find numerous species of fungi. All year round, the mosses and lichens are abundant.
Coed Obry is an ideal Welsh woodland in which you can build bonds with nature and ignite the life-long desire to learn and understand more about our wonderful natural world.
Sustainable “off-grid” Woodland Living
When living in Coed Obry we are “off-grid” and use 12v leisure batteries charged by solar panels (and a small wind turbine) for lighting, a 12v shower and charging phones/iPads. Most of our cooking is done on two wood burning stoves, supplemented by camping gas. Rainwater harvesting systems on our buildings supply water for washing up and showers. We have planted a number of fruit trees and bushes and grow organic vegetables in raised beds using no fertilisers or pesticides.
Natural History and Nature in Coed Obry
The peaty natural woodland soil has originated from the Glaslyn estuary before it was dammed by the Cob at Porthmadog in 1811, after which the land was reclaimed from the sea and farmed. More recently, it has returned to woodland. Observations of Google Earth images show that prior to around 2000 Coed Obry was mainly commercial evergreen forest (probably largely Sitka spruce) which was clearfelled around 2000 and since then birch (Betula pendula), which is a pioneer species, has dominated.
However, the eastern and southern margins of the wood have plenty of oak (Quercus petraea, commonly known as the sessile oak). Other species found in the wood include rowan (Sorbus aucuparia, also known as mountain ash); holly (Ilex aquifolium, known as European holly); western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla, or western hemlock-spruce); hazel (Corylus avellana, or Common hazel); willow (Salix spp., also called sallow and osier); elder (Sambucus nigra); and, there are three patches of rhododendron, an invasive species which we are keeping under control.
Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas, also commonly called wood fern, or buckler fern) is common throughout the wood and bracken is prevalent on the south side of Coed Obry. The other common species is blackberry (Rubus fruticosus aggregate). Sphagnum moss is prevalent in the damper low lying areas of the wood. Sphagnum is a genus of approximately 380 accepted species of mosses, commonly known as “peat moss”.
Birds and Mammals
The most commonly sighted birds are great tit, blue tit (which use the nestboxes in Coed Obry) and robin. We have found a chiff-chaff nest on the ground. Also common are wrens, blackbird, wood pigeon, jay and buzzard. We have sighted woodcock several times (in winter), tree creeper, and great spotted woodpecker. Several species of geese regularly fly over the wood on their way to the coast or to feed in the fields next to the nearby Glaslyn river. Ospreys nest under 1 km from the wood and the Glaslyn Osprey Visitor Centre is just over 1 km away. Live streaming of the osprey nest can be seen here in spring and early summer. Tawny owls can be heard most evenings and a tawny owl nestbox has been sited on the southern border of Coed Obry so we are hoping to attract some interest in future ! Pipistrelle bats can be seen feeding on insects around the pond most evenings. Mammal sightings include: dormouse; fox; and grey squirrel.