SHARPHILL WOOD FLORA SURVEY 2018

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Report to accompany Excel Spreadsheet ‘Flora Survey_2018_final’ click here 

Introduction

Sharphill Wood is a native mixed, primarily deciduous, woodland and a designated Local Wildlife Site (formerly known as a SINC) for its important flora and fauna. In terms of flora, the canopy of the wood comprises large mature ash (Fraxinus excelsior), oak (pedunculate (Quercus robur) and sessile (Quercus petraea)), common lime (Tilia x europaea) and beech (Fagus sylvatica), with a range of other species in the understorey layer and at ground level. Around the wood is a species-rich field margin. Generally, the woodland has a diverse structure.

This report summarises the results from a survey of the flora observed in Sharphill Wood during a number of visits made in 2018; the report follows a similar survey carried out by the author in 2017.

Methodology

The data in this report are based on 16 visits to the wood between 26th February and 28th September 2018. Each visit lasted between 1 and 2 hours; the time of day varied, but the visits were generally made between 1200 and 1700 hours. The methodology comprised walking south from the Peveril Drive entrance, down to the southern extremity of the wood, before returning north to the starting point, noting species which were present at any particular time. The precise transects taken on any particular visit varied, so that as far as possible all areas of the wood were covered. These included the northern, eastern, southern and western boundaries outside the wood, and the northern, eastern, southern, central and western footpaths inside the wood, as well as less frequent diagonal transects between footpaths.

Identification was generally based on the observed flower, aided by other salient botanical features such as leaf, stem and fruit, where appropriate. Reference was also made to the expected flowering period and geographical distribution, as detailed in the reference document: ‘The Wild Flower Key’, Francis Rose, 2006. The survey also drew on the list of species previously identified.

Based on the above methodology, a particular species was simply recorded as present on a spreadsheet; no attempt was made to categorise frequency (for example, by a ‘DAFOR’ scale), or to indicate distribution locally within the wood. The methodology used is not precise and on any particular visit some species may have been missed for a variety of reasons, such as missing the flowering period, not being in the right place at the right time, inexperience and/or simply a failure of observation. All visits were made by the author. Gordon Dyne assisted with the identification of grasses, sedges, rushes and ferns, during a joint visit on 25th June.

Results

The data from the 2018 survey are located in worksheet ‘2017-18’ in the accompanying Excel Spreadsheet: ‘Flora Survey_2018_Final’. A confirmed sighting of any particular species is identified by an entry of ‘18’ in column C (entitled ‘2018’). For comparison purposes, the data from the 2017 survey are shown by an entry of ‘17’ in column B (entitled ‘2017’). The results from earlier surveys, carried out by others, are located in worksheet ‘2001-15’.  For convenience, the results are grouped into (i) wild flowers; (ii) grasses, sedges, rushes and ferns, and; (iii) trees.

The separate section in the earlier (2001-15) surveys entitled ‘Open(ish) strip opposite Wheatcrofts’ was deleted in 2017 (and the deletion maintained in 2018). The rationale for this deletion was that the wood is encircled by a species rich herbaceous zone between the wood and the surrounding fields (and including the strip opposite ‘Wheatcrofts’). In the place of the separate section, a distinction was made between species (wildflowers only) which appeared to be: (i) only found in the wood, and; (ii) only found in the surrounding herbaceous zone. This distinction was illustrated by highlighting in the ‘2017’ worksheet; however, many entries were not highlighted, either because flora were found in both locations, or because the records were not good enough to be certain. These records were not added to in 2018, mainly because of ongoing ‘change of use’ in the adjoining land (see below).

The 2018 weather was characterised by an extended period of cool and wet weather in the spring, followed by a hot and dry summer period. The lack of moisture in late summer undoubtedly influenced the flowering of many of the woodland plants, specifically, they simply did not flower. At the same time, construction during the summer of a post and rail fence encircling the wood, as part of mitigation measures associated with the ongoing housing development to the north and east of the wood, significantly influenced the plants normally found in the herbaceous zone surrounding the wood. The influence from this development will be felt in future years, particularly on the land (formerly agricultural) adjoining the north and east boundaries of the wood, where a 40 metre wide ‘buffer’ zone in between the post and rail fence and the housing development has been planted up by the developers in autumn 2018.

Commentary and Conclusions

The reader is referred to the accompanying Excel Spreadsheet: ‘Flora Survey_2018_Final’for details of the individual plants identified. In summary, 79 species of wildflower, 26 species of tree and 10 species of grass, sedge, rush and fern were identified in 2018 (a total of 115 species), including 13 plants not previously recorded. Some wildflower, and grass, sedge, rush and fern, species which have been recorded in previous years were not identified in 2018 (these are shown by a blank entry in column C); it is likely that the reasons for this include the observational issues outlined above, the dry summer and the ongoing development, rather than any significant change in composition.

 

It is intended to carry out a repeat survey in 2019.

Richard, on behalf of Friends of Sharphill Wood

 

 

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