Monday, 2 February 2015

Frosty Burton Bushes and Beverley Westwood

After the last couple of wet days, the morning appeared bright and icy. We headed to Burton Bushes, a SSSI site which contains a small ancient woodland. The wood is mainly oak, some ash, beech and birch and much holly and hawthorn. There is little undergrowth this time of year, just a thick carpet of golden leaves covered the ground under the trees. The thick frost kept the mud mostly solid on the paths, which would have been almost completely impassable without wellies today. We lifted some lying wood, of which more later, and didn't find a lot: some flat-backed millipedes (Polydesmus sp.), some Common Striped woodlice and pygmy woodlice, a harvestman, a couple of ground beetles and a click beetle, and a tiny, really hard to see white snail, barely 2 mm in diameter.
 Blue tits we ubiquitous and very noisy, one of them performed a very passable blackbird impersonation. A couple of Goldcrests fed on a hawthorn and a seemingly lone, male Bullfinch fed on hawthorn buds on the edge of the wood. A distant Buzzard and a couple of Treecreepers in a group of trees by the golf course were highlights too.
 This winter has been windy, and its effects were apparent all around the wood. Some large trees had been blown over, opening large clearings, lifting root plates, and, by increasing the amount of wood on the ground, creating rich invertebrate habitats on their demise.
 Most of the wood's trees are mature, some starting to decay and die. Only in two areas of the wood there was some evidence of younger trees growing. Although cattle has no access to the wood, rabbits appear to be plentiful, and we wondered if there was any chance of natural regeneration of the woodland.
Click beetle for ID
An aggregation of flat-backed millipedes, Polydesmus sp.
Tiny snail for ID
The lovely and tiniest harvestman Nemastoma bimaculatum
A particularly bare area under a large oak
Pools of water on the roots of a beech.
A large (aprox. 2 cm) ground beetle, likely Pterostichus niger, found under a rotting log. Although alive, it pretended to be dead really well.
A large branch of an oak chopped up the hawthorn on the foreground clean, creating a clearing, letting the sunlight in.
A growth on a Holly trunk
As we were leaving, a Skylark did a little song flight over our heads, and then joined another one on the ground.

UPDATE 2/2/2014. Ground beetle ID thanks to Menno Schilthuizen and Martin Harvey on Twitter.

Bird list (Burton Bushes tetrad)
  1. Blackbird
  2. Blue Tit
  3. Bullfinch
  4. Buzzard
  5. Carrion Crow
  6. Chaffinch
  7. Dunnock
  8. Feral Pigeon
  9. Goldcrest
  10. Goldfinch
  11. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  12. Great Tit
  13. Jackdaw
  14. Magpie
  15. Mistle Thrush
  16. Redwing
  17. Robin
  18. Skylark
  19. Starling
  20. Treecreeper
  21. Woodpigeon
  22. Wren

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