DALS WILDLIFE SITE { WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND}

WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND

Native broad-leaved woodland.

Broad-leaved woodland is one of my favourite habitats. ten thousand years ago broad-leaved woodland was the dominant habitat in the UK. They colonised the land after the last ice age. it is thought that around 9000 years ago Hazel had become established, followed by oak, elm,lime, ash, beech, horn beam and maple. Although there are only 50 native trees, other species have been introduced and are now naturalised, two examples are, horse chestnut and sycamore.

Sadly, today, the UK is now one of the least wooded places in Europe. Only around 12% of the UK is wooded compared with an average of 44% in other European countries. 

This habitat more than any other has the beauty and wonder of the four seasons, ever changing in character and its inhabitants as they changes occur. From the beautiful fresh green of spring,to the leafy serenity of summer, to the glorious colourful autumn which slides into the apparent bleakness of winter.

Below--Even in the depths of winter trees provide beauty. Top the leafy serenity of summer.

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Importance of woodland

The importance of woodland as an habitat for native species of fauna and flora can be witnessed in the common names of many of them. Here I name some prime examples---Flora-- Wood sorrel, Wood anemone, Wood crane'sbill, Wood sage, Wood rush. Woodruff, Birds--Woodcock, Wood lark, Wood pigeon, Wood owl {Tawny} and Wood warbler.

Invertebrates--wood white { butterfly}, Wood gnat, Wood wasp and Speckled wood {butterfly}.

Fungi--Wood blewit, Wood hedgehog and chicken of the woods. Also of course is the wood mouse.

Broad-leaved woodland with its associated fauna and flora provide the nature lover with a plethora of species to study. Beginning in spring  with the flora that emerges through the dank leaf litter in response to the increasing daylight and the warmth of the sun. early spring flora such as the bluebell, wood anemone and lesser celandine show their foliage  long before the first leaf break of our deciduous trees occur.

Wood anemones carpet the floor under naked trees. These plants are the harbingers of spring.

Courtesy of Thomasz Kuran CC BY-SA 3.0 LicenseZawilec gajowy cm02.jpg

Earlier springs

According to the Spring Review 2010 {Woodland Trust and Nature's Calender} flowers are beginning to flower earlier { both tree and ground flora} over the last decade or so. Click on latest from the Woodland Trust on the right hand side of this page for more details.

The hardy species that quickly respond to the call of spring are often accompanied by song fro birds proclaiming their territorial rights and anticipating the frenetic activity which will be required as the new breeding season commences.

Greenfinch anticipating spring.

 

 Courtesy of Jacob Spinks CC BY-SA 2.0 License.

The season advances

Early insects responding to the call of spring such as bumblebees, butterflies and hoverflies may all be seen among the dappled sunlight at this time of the year. Hazel catkins and willow catkins  are also hardy harbingers of spring. as the season advances other flora such as red campion, for-get-me- nots, herb robert and the white archangel join the fray.

The foliage and flowers of the decidious trees are also worthy of our attention, the diverse variety that may be encountered is amazing! many of them can be observed on this site. {see associated pages below.}

Life in the wood is an endless cycle of renewal and death. Many creatures spend at least part of their lives relying on this habitat, while others such as the dormouse spend their entire lives in their woodland home. Roe deer are also associated with woodland.

Invertebrates are abundant in woodland which is the main attraction for the numerous birds. The oak tree is like an hotel for insects and it plays host to the greater number of insect species among our native trees. The understory in many woodlands consist of Holly, Hawthorn, Hazel and Elder.

Bugs, snails, slugs, centipedes, millipedes, beetles, and their larvae can all be found either among the leaves,under bark, beneath fallen branches and among dead wood either fallen or standing. All serve a function in this fascinating habitat.

Autumn a time for harvest

Autumn is one of the busiest times for creatures that feed in this woodland home. Trees are producing the fruits that will see many creatures through the coldest months. Acorns,beech mast, hazel nuts, hawthorn berries, blackberries are just some of the commoner fruits that birds and mammals will gorge themselves on. They all need to build up surplus fat if they are to survive the rigours of winter. Many creatures will horde supplies in some safe place for future use. This time of the year when the food is in copious supply advantage needs to be taken, if the creatures concerned are to make through the cruel winter to meet the warmer fresh green of spring.

Top--buttercups and for-get-me-nots on woodland floor. Middle--invertebrates are plentiful in woodland and attract the birds. Bottom-Autumn provides for the woodland inhabitants with food such as the sweet chestnut.

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Understory trees such as hawthorn produce a plethora of fruit for wildlife.

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