Very Good Service at Swanwick Lakes

We had to go over to Swanwick Lakes this morning to look at the management of some trees on a steep bank that were causing some concern to our landlords. These were in an area of the reserve that does not have public access and the reason soon became clear as the slopes were very steep and composed of clay, I slipped over and slid for several metres, fortunately not into any of the many patches of water. However the area was fascinating and includes ponds, some fine old woodland and an area of lichen and mosses. In the woodland there were several old cherry trees and a clump of wild service-trees. This last species is nowhere common and usually always taken as an identifier of ancient woodland. They have quite a distinctive shape with upright branches.

wild-service trees

wild-service trees

These are large trees and an interesting group, all of similar age and growing close together in an approximate ring, they look as though they have grown from a single parent tree, now long gone. checking when I got home I read that they grow from root layers, so I suspect this group are in effect all one tree and have been growing here for hundreds of years, possibly with several generations of stems succeeding one another.

wild-service tree stems in a ring

wild-service tree stems in a ring

The leaves are  very distinctive and in the past I have sometimes come across trees as a result of first noticing the leaves on the woodland floor.

wild-service tree leaves

wild-service tree leaves

The area also had an area of spoil resulting from the removal of clay for the nearby Bursledon Brickworks. The spoil is very nutrient poor and very little will grow on it but what does is interesting and comprises mostly mosses and lichens, it is similar to the lichen heath habitat at Blashford Lakes.

lichen and moss community

lichen and moss community

I came across a few clumps of moss that I do not remember seeing before, they looked very distinctive.

moss

moss

I think it is species of Plagiothecium but I may very well be wrong as I confess mosses are not a strongpoint of mine.

There were also several pools which I understand are very good for newts, although these were obviously elsewhere today.

shallows with reedmace

shallows with reedmace

Although birds were not a major feature of our visit I did add one species to my yearlist when we came across a pair of mandarin duck, so thanks to a late night woodcock last night I am now on 102 for the year.

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