Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Badock's Wood - A Place Worth Saving

My overall impression as I've walked through Badock's Wood over the last week or so is of the abundance of greenery. The Trees are in full leaf and the banks and hedges have filled out with the mixture of sun and rain that we've had. I've also noticed the contrast between those areas where light gets through to the ground and those areas where tree cover cuts out the light almost completely. Undergrowth is so important for wildlife.

 Here are two areas that demonstrate this. The top photo on the right is close to where the path from Lake Road meets the path along the Trym. This is a small area where there is no tree cover and a good mixture of plants has flourished. The brambles, nettles and many other plants offer good refuge for small mammals and birds.
The lower photo is taken just a short way further along that path towards the Triangle and you can see that there is a bare, muddy area under the trees where little light reaches.
Because of this effect it is important that tree cover is managed and that some saplings are removed before they add to the tree cover. However, this must be overseen by those with expertise in Woods Management and it has been temporarily halted until the recent spate of tree vandalism has been stopped.

 Over half a century ago I used to go with friends to look for 'Letter Boxes' on Dartmoor. This was a good way of getting to know the more isolated parts of the moor while facing the challenge of finding the boxes using a map and compass. I'm sure that the challenge encouraged many young people to get out on to the moor who otherwise would not have done so. If you don't know what 'Letter Boxes' are you can read about them here.
Of course a lot changes in 50 years and now there is the activity of Geocaching. This is the same activity but you find the cache by using GPS rather than map and compass.
On the face of it this sounds much easier and almost cheating but I'm sure there is more to it and that that judgement is almost certainly unfair. I met these two young men in the woods recently and they explained that they had just discovered a cache. On the right is a photo of what they found; a little book to leave a record of their visit. They leave it in place for the next person to find. I have been careful that these photos do not identify the location.  You can learn more about Geocaching here.
Although I would generally encourage the activity, it is not permitted on most Nature Reserve sites for fear of damage, and it is not clear whether any organisation has got permission from Bristol City Council to place this cache in the wood. This will be checked. So, although I would support the activity and encourage young people to take it up, I would say that we need to protect these areas for wildlife and the caches need to be placed elsewhere.

I saw this Ringlet Butterfly in the meadow last week. Although it looks fairly dowdy, it is in fact very attractive with its velvety wings and white margins.
The reason I saw it on a cool day was that its colour causes it to warm up more quickly than lighter coloured butterflies and so it can fly in cooler weather. The same is probably true of the meadow Brown Butterflies but to read more about the Ringlet read here.

When I took this photo at the Bugs & Butterflies walk in May I thought the bug was a type of Grasshopper but I was wrong. In fact it is the nymph of a Dark Bush Cricket (thanks to the iSpot website). Crickets differ from Grasshoppers in having much longer antennae but also they stridulate ( a new word to me), that is 'sing' by rubbing their wings together whereas Grasshoppers rub their hind legs against their wings. I'm not sure that you would notice this unless you were watching very carefully !!
The adult doesn't have such attractive markings but is probably much noisier.
To find other differences between crickets and grasshoppers look here  or to investigate the iSpot website click here.

Look out for the Six-Spot Burnet in the meadow as you walk through. As children we used to call any red and black moth a 'blood sucker' but of course this is far from the truth. The caterpillars often feed on Bird's Foot Trefoil but it looks as though this moth is investigating Yellow Rattle. I am surprised at the size of its antennae  but these give it a long reach for touch and smell. The red and black colouration is a warning to a predator that it should be avoided, perhaps because of a bitter taste, such as with ladybirds. This colour warning method is called aposematism.   Learn more about the Six-Spot Burnet here.

On a more serious note, there is a lot of vandalism at the moment. This is worse than usual and it has been reported that a small group of youths has been seen on recent evenings with tools including an axe. If you actually see vandalism taking place or hear of anybody who is involved in this sort of activity please call the police on 101. This vandalism is doing great damage to the wood and it can take many years for damaged trees to be replaced. We must try to stop it. This photo is from a previous episode in March.

There are discussions taking place at the moment
about access to the woods for wheelchair users. The Doncaster Road entrance is larger than the other entrances and is designed for wheel chair access.  A concern is that if the entrance is larger than at present it will allow access by motorbikes which were the cause of so much damage in the past. Of course a solution must be found that satisfies all responsible users and so discussions continue. Matters such as these are discussed at the Neighbourhood Partnership meetings and you can find out more from this website: Neighbourhood Partnership as well as from attending FOBW General meetings.

Last year The Friends of Badock's Wood helped in the making of a video by the pupils of Badock's Wood Primary School. Our part was to help encourage the careful disposal of litter and the overall purpose of the video is to help promote the responsible use and care of the woods. The video features the children and is called 'Into the Woods'. If you would like to see it click here.
It is important to instil this philosophy in children because you can see from the photo on the right, taken last week, that all the fly-tipped rubbish that we removed from the woods a few months ago has been replaced by 'fresh' rubbish.

Fortunately the fly tipping and tree damage does not detract from the beauty of Badock's Wood.
However, if it were to continue or not be controlled then eventually it would have a devastating effect not only on our enjoyment but perhaps more seriously on the Wood's ability to sustain the wildlife population that it supports at the moment.

 The flowers on the left are Trailing Bellflower, which is a type of Campanula and can be seen particularly along the stream. These are beside the stream between Lakewood Road entrance and the Triangle but do look for them in other places.

There are three events taking place in Badock's Wood during July:

  • July 3rd: Midsummer Wildflower Walk led by Tony Smith of Bristol Naturalists Society.
  • July 19th: Badock's Wood History Walk led by Alan Aburrow.
  • July 23rd: Moth trapping and Identification led by Ray Barnett of the Bristol Moth group
See FOBW website for more details of these events.


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  • Any opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not necessarily those of The Friends of Badock's Wood. 

mike townsend

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