Nov 11 2021

In the Spotlight – An interview with volunteer, David Paley

It’s all about the trees… and so much more: staff and volunteers share their nature joys

Today we would like to introduce you to volunteer warden David Paley


The intriguingly named Whelkie Wynds (there are a few theories!) in Flamborough is another of the Trust’s Millenium ‘Woods on your Doorstep’, and a recent addition to David’s woodland work. He has supported the work of the Trust for years, and also works with the Leeds Coppicing Group, but took on Whelkie Wynds in 2020, just as the first lockdown started, and when he became a Life Member of the Trust.


David will soon be moving to Flamborough, and he tells me that then the wood will quite literally be on his doorstep.


“I live in Leeds at the moment and visit the wood quite often, but I’m looking forward to being closer. I can keep a better eye on things (there has been some illicit chopping down of small trees and removal of the wood) and I’m hoping to get more community involvement going with woodland management. I’ve got one willing helper so far and we’ve done some practical work together. I’d also like to find ways to involve schoolchildren.”


I told David how involving schools and young people was an objective other Wardens had mentioned. We agreed that the more any of us can do to involve children in the natural world the better it will be for them and the planet.


David’s favourite tree species is the oak – he calls it “the dominating tree” (though not as yet in Whelkie Wynds) and was surprised to hear on a recent tv documentary about the huge number of species a single oak tree can support: the Trust’s website says 2,300. He told me he potted up 4 acorns last year, and is really pleased that 3 have germinated and are now baby oak trees. So that’s going to help a lot of wildlife when he plants them out!


Talking about other nature joys, David was excited to have a barn owl visit the nest box he made himself and has put up in Flamborough. He reported the sighting to the Flamborough Bird Observatory and has high hopes that ‘his’ barn owl will return to roost and possibly breed in the box.


Like myself – and several other volunteers I’ve spoken with – David has bird feeders in his garden and loves to watch ‘ordinary’ garden birds come and go, especially goldfinches. He told me about a sparrowhawk paying the garden a regular visit too. Though we both agreed that the RSPB’s 200,000 breeding seabirds along the cliff top from his new Flamborough home will be quite a bird spectacle too!


“But it’s still a spectacle to see the barn owl checking out the box, and I’ve heard tawny owls twit-twoo-ing in the wood too,” David added.


My last question for David was about his favourite landscape: “I love woodlands,” he said, “but you can’t beat the coastline. Who doesn’t love the coast?”


Well, soon he’s going to have both on his doorstep, so good luck to him, the owls, and the oak trees.


Daphne Pleace – Volunteer Whittle Reporter

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