Bodkin Hazel Wood, Gloucestershire

I visited Bodkin Hazel Wood in early March 2018 just after the heavy snows, there was still some about especially along the sides of some of the roads where the snow plows had pushed the snow away. There was even a little bit lying in a few areas of the wood and this showed that deer frequent this wood.

There are no signs up , not that I could find. You can park off the road, the A46 near Petty France, the area is not large but you could get 2 or 3 vehicles there, but no not block the farm gate and track. It is a short walk up to the wood, as I said there is no grand entrance, the wood has the remnants of an old stone wall surrounding it. It is an SSSI, but does not appear to be owned by Gloucstershire Wildlife Trust or any other conservation organisation, I presume it is privately owned. According to Wikipedia it is 26 acreas in size but it seemed smaller than that to me, I would have guessed more like 15 acres. It is long and narrow.

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Once inside it is quite an interesting wood, It was obviously a coppice with standard woodland some years ago but then it has been neglected, I would say for over 50 years. Recently work has commenced and there are areas where the hazel coppice has been cut back, some as recently as this winter. Also some plastic tubes have been put round some young Ash trees to protect them from deer and rabbits.  The understory is mostly Hazel as you might expect from its name, there is also some holly and hawthorn. The trees are a mix of Ash, Oak, Beech and some Larch. Obviously the Ass was also coppiced in the past and there are some magnificent old Ash stools which could well be 300 to 500 years old. Unfortunately there are also some which have died away due to neglect and some which have reverted to Ash standards as they will if they are not regularly cut. For Ash this is normally every 20 or so years.

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The recent management has resulted in lots of cut wood lying on the ground. Seems like a bit of a waste, it could be converted into charcoal or channeled into fire wood. I know that a certain amount left lying about is good for invertebrates and thus other bigger wildlife but there is a huge amount.

The field layer looks quite good, with lots of Bluebells, Ramsons, and Dogs Mercury, I also saw some Primroses and Woodruff, but as it is quite early there will no doubt be other stuff waiting to emerge. I will visit again and update this list.

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The ground flora is mainly moss and I saw some interesting ‘moss kebabs’ this is where moss has colonised up the dead stalk of a wildflower, possibly Nettle stalks.






Below is a copy of the SSSI citation but bear in mind it was written some years ago and

File ref:
County: Avon Site Name: Bodkin Hazel Wood
District: Northavon
Status: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notified under Section 28 of the
Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981
Local Planning Authority: Avon County Council, Northavon District Council
National Grid Reference: ST 780850 Area: 10.62 (ha) 26.24 (ac)
Ordnance Survey Sheet 1:50,000: 172 1:10,000: ST 78 NE, SE
Date Notified (Under 1949 Act): 1974 Date of Last Revision: 1974
Date Notified (Under 1981 Act): 1984 Date of Last Revision:
Other Information:
Bodkin Hazel Wood is an isolated primary woodland surviving amongst fertile
agricultural land. Although originally managed as a pedunculate oak-ash-hazel
coppice-with-standards woodland with ash as the dominant, most of the standard
trees were removed many years ago and the traditional management regime has
lapsed. Regrowth since the felling has resulted in a dense, sometimes impenetrable
thicket of coppiced hazel, with frequent tall ash coppice and occasional maidens of
oak, ash and birch. The underwood is very rich in species and includes guelder
rose Viburnum opulus, wayfaring tree V. lantana, dogwood Cornus sanguinea,
spindle Euonymus europaeus, yew Taxus baccata, cherry Prunus avium and holly
Ilex aquifolium.
The ground flora is notably diverse. Dog’s mercury Mercurialis perennis carpets
the woodland, together with primrose Primula vulgaris, bluebell Hyacinthoides
non-scriptus, wood anemone Anemone nemorosa, wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella and
ramsons Allium ursinum. Cow-wheat Melampyrum pratense and bracken
Pteridium aquilinum occur locally on more acid soils. Species of particular interest
are the ancient-woodland indicators herb Paris Paris quadrifolia and toothwort
Lathraea squamaria. Other plants with restricted distributions include autumn
crocus Colchicum autumnale, lily-of-the-valley Convallaria majalis and yellow star
of Bethlehem Gagea lutea.

Also some fungi and evidence of rabbits.

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I made a second visit to Bodkin Hazel Wood on 23/03/2018. Click the link to see what I found on that occasion.

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