Woodlands in spring

Woodlands in spring

Celandines, wood anemone, ramsons, violets and bluebells are now all in full bloom in Eaglehead and Bloodstone copse nature reserve, making this morning’s walk to check up on our sheep an absolute delight for the senses.

It’s a shame I cannot convey the beautiful smell of walking through a woodland in the springtime through a blog; I can however share my photos, experiences and sound clips with you.

I’ve only known this nature reserve for a short time, having moved to the Isle of Wight in August 2019, but in that short space of time I have experienced the beauty of the patch of chalk downland that our woolly friends do such a good job of managing, the considerable impact of ash dieback disease on what is predominantly an ash woodland and now the splendour of the woodland flora and fauna in spring.

As for the chalk grassland, for now its just the sheep and a few violets; stay tuned for an update later in the summer when it will be humming with insects and alive with colour.

The woodland is largely managed hazel coppice of varying ages interspersed with mature trees, many of which are ash and unfortunately have been infected by ash dieback disease and as such a number of these trees have been felled as they pose a risk to site visitors using the footpath. This disease will no doubt change the character of our native ash woodlands, this site included, but in the clearings the butterflies will dance in the sunlight, flowers will bloom and other tree species will seize the opportunity and flourish.

In the gaps between the trees the ground is a carpet of colour; the often overlooked moschatel is one of my favourite plants, simply because it has green flowers and not many others do! The shining yellow celandines remind me of the sunny days to come, the intense purple of the bluebells is my favourite colour and the bright white wood anemones compliment the other colours so well.

In among the flowers there are bumblebee Queens busily buzzing looking for a suitable location to raise their family this year and the rustles and scuffles of unseen mammals going about their days. I saw my second holly blue butterfly of the year as I was perched on a tree stump just taking in the spectacle, shortly followed by a brimstone. A little way further along the path I saw my first green veined white of the year and caught a glimpse of a comma basking on a log pile.

I stopped for a minute on my walk just to listen. This is an amazing thing to do, even in one’s back garden or open space – there are so many auditory delights to be had. I have included a short sound clip for you. Among the expected woodland birdsong you can hear a tapping which was a woodpecker searching for his lunch and also a peacock, on the neighbouring farm! (Turn volume well up!)

I am so grateful to be able to get out and about during this lockdown; being in nature has been an important part of my life and it certainly helps my mindset in difficult times. I decided to begin this blog to help others who may be stuck indoors to experience what’s out there and I hope you found this virtual mini-tour of Eaglehead and Bloodstone copse beneficial.