The magnificent Briddlesford Woods is the largest remaining ancient semi-natural woodland on the Isle of Wight with some very special residents.
For over 20 years we have been preserving and enhancing this wildlife haven thanks to donations from our supporters and a number of grants.
Briddlesford is one of the few places in the UK where endangered dormice and red squirrels can both be found. Two species of rare bat, barbastelles and Bechstein’s, also breed there and the woodlands have been designated as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area for Conservation (SAC). This gives it the highest legal protection.
The site is also of interest for its insect and plant life. One of the most important features of the woodland plant life is the abundance of narrow-leaved lungwort. This species is restricted in Britain to ancient woodlands on the shores and tributaries of the Solent.
The presence of these rare animals and plants in our woods is a combination that is unique within the UK, and one that needs constant care and protection. Can you support us to make this happen?
A keen local volunteer has been visiting Briddlesford regularly throughout the summer to record butterflies for us. So far he has made 12 visits and has recorded 15 species so far. On his last visit, he saw 124 butterflies, including this beautiful white admiral.
Moths in May
Here is a summary report from Iain Outlaw who carried out a moth survey and event for us in May:
“As we hoped the warm conditions were great for moths and we did better than expected with 280 moths of 70 species. That included an excellent count of 58 Great Prominent but the highlights of the night were a couple of micro-moths.
The first was Incurvaria oehlmanniella which is a surprising find. It is common on heathland areas in southern England where the larvae feed on the leaves of bilberry but there is only one previous record on the Island and that was from the adjacent Firestone Copse in 2014.
The second was a tortrix moth, Eucosmomorpha albersana. This is much scarcer across its whole range and is chiefly found in large areas of woodland where the larvae feed on honeysuckle. This is a more significant find; on the Island it is very rare with one record from the 19th century and one from 2011.”
You can visit this special place year round. Briddlesford Parkland – 10 hectares of peaceful wood pasture, and Hurst Copse – 5 hectares of beautiful semi-natural ancient woodland, near Wootton Bridge on the Isle of Wight are open for you to explore.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more details to help you plan and make the most of a visit.
There are occasionally opportunities to join one of our guided walks around Briddlesford or longer training courses. Details of all our public events can be found in our events section.
Why not combine a visit to Briddlesford Woods with a trip on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway? From the train you can see the surrounding beautiful countrside from a different angle. The line actually passes through Briddlesford Copse, which is also owned and looked after by us.
If you live locally or visit the Isle of Wight regularly and you would like to volunteer your time at our reserve please contact email@example.com. There are opportunities to take part in dormouse monitoring and practical management such as coppicing.
Over the last 20 years we have been working towards improving the woodland for wildlife. This takes a lot of hard work and funds from our generous supporters and grant givers.
We have established a long-rotation (15-20 years) coppicing regime to ensure a steady supply of hazelnuts for the red squirrels and dormice to eat. We also maintain a network of rides (essentially paths through the woodland) and glades to allow light to reach the woodland floor benefitting wild flowers, butterflies and other invertebrates.
A Jigsaw grant has also enabled us to begin de-fragmenting the woodland, widening narrow fragile copses and restoring hedgerows. Over 5,000 native trees grown from seed collected in Briddlesford were planted 8 years ago, and we have been actively encouraging natural regeneration of native trees in the surrounding copses into grassland areas.
There are areas of non-intervention within the woodland where we have allowed a high forest structure to develop. This habitat is of considerable conservation value and adds another dimension to this diverse woodland. An abundance of dead and decaying wood is retained wherever possible in all copses to encourage insects and fungi.
Interspersed between the copses, we have 30 hectares of wildflower rich grassland and 6 hectares of arable which has been reverted to grassland. These areas are grazed by a neighbouring farmer’s cattle. Within this grassland we have also sown just over a hectare of nectar rich plants, carefully selected to provide food for insects.
We have dug 14 ponds to add value to the grassland areas. These create areas for bats to feed, for dragonflies and amphibians to breed and for birds and mammals to drink or bathe. Cattle use the ponds to drink from and as they do so they ‘puddle’ the edges so that the pond retains water for longer.
Ourselves and a host of experts regularly monitor the array of special species that live in our woods. This helps us assess the impact of our land management and make further improvements. It also helps us to keep the land protected for years to come.