Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Management styles

The final wood in my informal survey of A2 woods was the largest, so I left it until the Bank Holiday. What a waste of time.... once renowned for the richness of its flora, it has been firmly managed so it is now a dark mostly-silent place dominated by chestnut coppice, with only occasional bits of ivy, bramble and dogs mercury forming an apology for an understory.

There was not a sprig of sanicle or other ancient-woodland-indicator species to encourage further searching, and as for orchids, I saw just one twayblade.
The sole piece of interest was a calling woodpecker that I initially thought was a lesser-spot, but which turned out to be a noisy young great-spot shouting from its hole.

To recover from the soul-destroying walk around the dead wood, I crossed the A2 to Waterworks Wood, which was immediately lighter, more varied and full of interest. A line of hornbeam coppice along an old ditch and trackway provides a historical perspective too.
In the first wood, the only signs read "Private", but here there is an apologetic explanation of management practices.
Under the graceful beeches were plenty of white helleborines, and next month's budding broad-leaved helleborines were showing well.
Just one group of four bird's-nest orchids was seen......
... and a sunny nook held gone-over lady orchids, and three spikes of fly orchid.
This wood also had its young birds - in this case a family of marsh tits hassling the hard-pressed parents for food.

No prizes for guessing which wood is the more profitable, but also it's not a great leap of imagination from these to the future of the Forestry Commission lands.

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