Walk in the Lauzelle Woods

Promenade No. 4: Lauzelle Woods

A. A wood with varied tree species and multiple functions  

The Lauzelle woods house a large diversity of biotopes, sometimes very close together.  This may be due to an exposition or soil contrast…there are confined zones and more open, clear areas.

The first area has a pioneer and hemophiliac vegetation (which appreciates light): oaks, chestnuts, ashes, limewoods, birches, cherry woods.  In this fairly clear area, one often encounters the winged warbler as well as the garden warbler, hedge sparrow and robin.  You may be surprised by the number of nest boxes found here.  Remember that the woods are economically exploited.  The nest boxes are logical to replace the trees felled within this operation. 

B. The Blanc Ry Valley

The valley crossed by a river, the Petit Ry, is perpendicular to the Dyle valley.  This river presents a remarkable biological quality (10/10 biotic index), which explains the significant presence of crawfish, lymnae and freshwater prawn.  These water insects feed abundantly on vegetal refuse, contributing to the degradation of organic material.  Our trail does not pass by there, but we offer to do a small detour to the left, in the direction of the Blanc Ry pond.  You will not be disappointed by the display of numerous birds that live in this true paradise.  The floating islands were built for their use.  A permanent island (made using a soil mound) is still in progress.

Several sources supply the Petit Ry.  Two pure water sources (10/10 biotic index) were the object of developments.  You can potentially quench your thirst at the “Fountain of the crying tree”.  But do not forget that this is living water that does not meet European standards.  

C. The pools

Many water pools were created to promote aquatic fauna, including batrachians. Contrary to the Russian frog, common toad, and obstetrical toad, of which the tadpoles are very numerous in stagnant water, the salamander and alpine newt reproduce in free and running water.  This disappearing amphibian is fortunately in full expansion in the Lauzelle Woods. These various zones are occupied mainly by known, but still indigenous, vegetation.  

D. Dead trees, a delicacy for woodpeckers

Before mounting the 550th route, you can observe, in the pond on the right, several dead trees of which the trunks were torpedoed by the great spotted woodpecker, the green woodpecker or the black woodpecker.  The trunks serve as a drum and sometimes as a nest, and others – bats, creepers and a multitude of insects- do not hesitate to occupy it.  In the summer, the woodpecker eats xylophagous insects that it looks for by hammering the trunks.  During the winter, it becomes an omnivore vegetarian, picking up any available food.  It marks its territory by the drumming, clearly more powerful and regular than the hammering.  In the spring, you can hear their very specific songs resonating in the forest.  

E. Humid areas

Stopping halfway down the slope, below the 550th route, you can observe the different biotopes.  Managed in a strictly ecological vocation, this area is paradise for robins, wrens, blackbirds, black headed warblers as well as garden warblers, alder conks and woodcocks.

The herbaceous covering is mainly made up of vegetation that is typical of humid areas : blackberry bushes, cardamine, woodrush, etc.  The ligneous tree species of this site are riparian : willows, ashes, sycamore maples, alders, etc.  A small, leafy tree that has cones; the alder attracts the alder conk, of which you can (with a bit of luck !) hear singing in the high foliage.  A part of this humid area was the subject of a natural reserve classification 

F. A heavy blanket

In climbing the trail, you will be without a doubt shocked to see – on the left, that the earth is blanketed with branches and remnants of ferns from last fall.  The wood has a natural and silvicultural vocation.  The trees produced must therefore present certain economical characteristics.  To eliminate forks, branches with a too large diameter, shape defects, etc., an artificial pruning left in place serves as a haven for numerous species and will end up being broken down by decomposing mushrooms, insects or birds…

The eagle fern present on these dry and sunny places is very intrusive thanks to its significant subterrain network (the rootstock has a longevity of more than 100 years).  Its leafing, not very appreciated by birds and game, develop each year in May and can reach a height of 3 m.  

G. An keystone

For two years, hornbeam plantings were realized along the 550th route. The plan is to create an aesthetic and ecological archway.  You can see wren nests that were built last summer.  

H. A larch population

On your right, you can observe a larch population (it is the only indigenous conifer that loses its leaves in the winter).  Its wood is rot-proof and resistant to insect attacks. In the Scandinavian countries, its bark, very rich in tannin, was widely used for leather tanning.  

I. Beech forest

Further along, you will cross a timber forest dominated by beeches.  This shade species intercepts light and acidifies the sun, just like conifers, reducing the development of the inferior stratum.  Its wood has multiple uses: construction, furniture, wood fuel.  In this landscape, the birds are particularly arboreal: chickadee, nuthatch, garden creepers.  The nuthatch owes its name to its habit of building the entrance of its nest with dry mud, keeping out various predators. 

You may be able to observe a deer running down the slope towards the humid areas where it can water itself and find some tender grass.  The mating period is from the end of July to mid August.  After the coupling, the fertilized eggs remain at rest for four months: true gestation then begins and lasts about 5 months.  This postponed gestation is to avoid birth in the middle of winter.  Birth takes place near water, in the most total discretion.  The roe diet is often composed of branches and leaves from ash trees and maples, which makes them responsible for damage to forest plantings.  They also love brambles. 

J. Formidable ant hills in a spruce population  

The spruce is one of the main resinous tree species in Western Europe.  It is an excellent building wood.  It is also used for the furniture and floor manufacturing.  From the path, you can observe enormous conifer and twig domes.  Constructed by ants, they serve as protection - against inclement weather and temperature variations – for the nest in the soil.  Please do not leave the path to observe them more closely, you risk crushing them! A colony is made up of a minimum of 10,000 workers as well as a fertile female.  For reproduction, the queen disposes of a sperm reserve given to her by a male during the unique nuptial process.  The queen lays two types of eggs: unfertilized eggs give birth to males and the fertilized eggs give birth to workers or queens, depending on the food that is given to them during their larval life.  Most ants are omnivores.  They consume insects, animal cadavers, aphids and the excrements of aphids.  If you pass your hand below the anthill – but we do not advise you to do so- you will immediately smell the formic acid odor that the ants expel to defend themselves or to kill their prey. 

K. The bat grotto

On your left, you will descend stairs made from logs to the Paulus fountain.  A bit further along, at the top of the pond, you can observe (with careful attention) –the glen, concealed beneath the vegetation.  It is a bat grotto.  It was created in 1996 to maintain hygrometry and constant temperatures, ideal conditions as a winter home for bats, salamanders, butterflies, frogs, toads and a multitude of insects.