Summer sights and sounds in Nymans Woods
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Life in the woods follows gentle rhythms from dusk to dawn and throughout the seasons. The long days and short nights of summer can improve your chances of meeting wildlife, hearing whirring insects or an evening chorus of birds, and enjoying flashes of colour from wildflowers and sunning butterflies.
Our Senior Woods Ranger, Chloe Bradbrooke, shares some of the summer delights she enjoys and also her observations of the effects of a long winter and late spring on this diverse environment.
The long days and short nights of summer can improve your chances of meeting wildlife: foxes venture out in daylight, driven by the need to feed their young, and mornings are best for admiring butterflies as they bask in sunbeams, warming themselves before flight.
The longer, drawn out evenings reveal deer, badgers and stoats as they emerge from daytime resting places. Even nocturnal tawny owls may be spotted on a summer evening out hunting to feed hungry mouths.
Sounds of summer
Subtler than the famous dawn chorus is the evening's chorus: less intense but equally enchanting as birds prepare to roost, one by one falling silent in a reverse of the morning crescendo, with the robin often the last left singing.
As light fades, bush crickets chirp from bramble thickets and maybugs fly to feed on tree foliage. Many of the flying insects are a great food source for bats that whiz amongst the trees and across the lake surface.
When seasons linger or are late to arrive
Nowadays, any talk of natural rhythms usually includes some comment on their disruption, due to changes in climate and land management. At Nymans the long, hard winter led to late spring flowering in the woods, presenting us with colourful blooms at the same time as fresh green tree foliage.
Another unusual combination was the presence of redwings still here in the woods singing with our resident birds, rather than back north, whilst the chiffchaffs had not arrived from the south.
It’s not possible to understand the full implications of such global events, but we try to do our bit to help, however small. We installed four bat boxes to compensate for removing a declining roadside oak that had bat roosting potential.
Our new junior ranger team have planted black poplars, a rare tree of wet woodland, as part of a scheme to rescue the species in Sussex. Exotic invasive plants are removed to allow our natives to flourish, and bird boxes were placed in the garden.
To best decide on future management we constantly aim to increase our knowledge, not only through professional surveys, but by casual observations.
Please feel free to get in touch with any notes of interest whilst you’re out and about. The woodland volunteers have built a new bird hide from our timber, providing the perfect place to sit and take in the surroundings.