A Tree which stands in a Lake District wood is the tallest in Cumbria and could be the largest in the North West.
The 57.8-metre giant grand fir in Skelghyll Wood, Ambleside, has also been recorded as the tallest of its species in England, breaking the previous Cumbrian record of 55 metres, which was held by a conifer at Thirlmere.
National Trust ranger John Pring got the idea to get the tree measured and recorded by the National Tree Register charity when driving through Ambleside.
He said: “I’ve driven on that main road (A591) in Ambleside for a long time and I just thought: ‘That really is a very big tree, I wonder how big it is? We were surprised just how tall it was when we measured it. There are some very big trees in the area but we didn’t realise how tall it actually was. This is just one of the thousands of big old trees the National Trust looks after in the area.”
Mr Pring, who has covered Windermere and Ambleside for 20 years, is now encouraging nature lovers to go to Skelghyll Wood and see the true scale of how tall the trees are for themselves and the grand fir, which was planted in 1860, looks set to continue growing and could push the 60-metre mark unless there are any accidents such as a storm blowing it over.
The tree was measured by tree climbers Mark Sigrift and Mick Lupton of Aspen Tree Management in Witherslack by dropping a long tape measure and using a badminton pole to attach a tape measure. “It just shows that the tree is happy with the climate there,” said Mr Pring. It’s only 160 years old so it is still growing.”
TWO thirds of the red kites released in Grizedale Forest last summer have survived the harsh winter.
Wildlife rangers believe that around 20 of the 30 birds released in the Forestry Commission’s three-year re-introduction programme made it through the winter and are still in Cumbria, or nearby counties. Between five and eight of the birds are believed to be living around Grizedale and the Rusland Valley, with another three to five inhabiting the Kirkby Moor area near Ulverston.
Four more Grizedale red kites have been spotted by RSPB experts at feeding stations in Dumfries and Galloway – the furthest known movement is by the bird tagged as number four, which has flown 120km north west into Scotland.
“The birds are doing pretty much exactly as we expected, which is very encouraging,” said Iain Yoxall, Forestry Commission wildlife ranger. “We are more confident that these birds will make it to adults now they have made it through a harsh winter. Sadly we lost a few birds but that is natural and why we have to release the numbers that we did.”
The 30 red kites released from a secret location in Grizedale Forest in August last year had coloured tags on each wing. An orange tag on their left wing shows they are from Grizedale, and blue tags on their right wings indicate that they were released in 2010. Some birds were also fitted with radio transmitters to help with monitoring.
Mr Yoxall, who has been following the birds’ movements around Cumbria, said the help he has received from the public had been invaluable. “I have been radio tracking the birds but sightings from members of the public have been a fantastic help and greatly appreciated. This has been very important because it helps us find the birds and backs up our radio tracking results to give us a more robust picture of their movements. We hope that the public will continue letting us know when and where they make sightings of the red kites.”
This year’s birds will hatch in May and are likely to be released into Grizedale Forest in August. The red kites being introduced into Grizedale are the product of a reintroduction programme that took place in Northamptonshire in the 1980s.
Red kites were almost eradicated from the UK following changes in farming practices and human persecution between the 16th and 19th centuries. But they managed to cling on in Wales, and their numbers recovered slowly thanks to the actions of local conservationists