3 June 2014

A walk in Rafters and Horns Woods

Rafters and Horns Wood is the southerly extension of Brede High Woods to the south of Powdermill Lane (OS grid ref: TQ801189).  Yesterday I walked from the Horns Wood entrance along the western ride to Powdermill Lane, then back along the higher path to the east.
The wood is ancient coppice with standards but in the past was much messed about by the nearby iron and gunpowder works.
The flora is very rich and with trying very hard I noticed 26 ancient woodland indicators: field maple, ramsons, wood anemone, hard fern, hornbeam, pendulous sedge, golden saxifrage, pignut, scaly male-fern, narrow-leaved buckler fern, bluebell, tutsan, beautiful St. John’s-wort, holly, yellow archangel, southern wood-rush, yellow pimpernel, common cow-wheat, three-nerved sandwort, aspen, primrose, lesser skullcap, orpine, black bryony, wood speedwell and bush vetch.  The names are almost as magical as the plants.
There were also common spotted orchis and ragged robin, the latter not very common in our area.
None of the above is especially rare, but it is unusual to see orpine (Sedum telephium) growing in such large quantities and in several places. (see picture below).
Another treat was to see the small colony of monkshood (Aconitum x stoerkianum) at the edge of Powdermill Lane a few metres east of the bridge, though it is being rather overwhelmed by by Japanese knotweed.  As far as I know it grows nowhere else in our area and is almost certainly an escape from the garden of the cottage that used to stand there.
Perhaps the highlight of the day though was tracking down the source of a loud and persistent ‘chip chipping’ of a hungry great spotted woodpecker chick high up in a dead tree.
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