Nature Walk with Mary Breeds - All welcome
Meet at the main entrance to Ford Wood at the bottom of Ford Rise at 7.00pm on Wednesday 14th May. The walk will be led by Mary Breeds and will look at the plants and other wildlife that make Ford Wood Local Nature Reserve so special for wildlife. All are welcome, wear sturdy shoes and be aware that there will be some rougher sections of path. No dogs please. Mary has a great knowledge of the plants of North Devon and wrote the booklet “Wildflowers of Braunton Burrows”. As well as being very good at identifying plants, Mary knows lots of background about what plants were used for in the past and where their names come from.
The site is recorded in the Doomsday Book and is to be recommended for County Wildlife Site Status as a recognised ‘Ancient Woodland’. This will provide substantial protection for what’s left of it. However, the site has been much eroded by development and previous land use. What remains however is of high historical and environmental value. It’s proximity to the Town makes it virtually unique in the UK but as a consequence, subject to immense pressure from urbanisation and public access issues. It is of paramount importance that the Woodland be protected and allowed to regenerate and adapt to its changed environment. It’s potential as a Wildlife haven cannot be underestimated in what is a largely near sterile Agricultural and Urban region.
The Woodland comprises of a large number of trees of considerable age, but much of the enclosed development has impacted upon water tables and created a stressed environment for many of the specimen trees in it. As such, several trees particularly around the perimeter are decaying and dying. Nevertheless it still contains a substantial list of Flora and Fauna, the strength of which should allow for a natural regeneration (given a little help).
This is a summary of the results from a recent environmental survey…
Trees comprise predominantly of Ash, Oak, Beech & Sycamore, with a wide range of other species including Chestnut, Elm, Wych Elm, Yew, Hornbeam & Wild Cherry. There are additionally, singular specimens of numerous other trees, but there aresome non-native species.
The discovery of Elms regenerating and the existence of several uncommon species are particularly pleasing; whilst several of the English Oaks are truly magnificent specimens many hundreds of years old. At shrub level there are predominance’s of Laurel, scrub Holly, and some Rhododendron and much of this will need to be removed if the woodland floor is to be given the chance to regenerate.
Animals once included Otters and Dormice but there are no signs of these now. The Badger Sett on the south side is also vacant although Badger signs are prevalent in the area. There is evidence of foxes and several smaller mammals. Some species of as yet unidentified bat have been reported present and there is at least one species of Woodpecker (Greater Spotted) and one Raptor (Buzzard) resident, amongst a modest population of more common woodland birds.