About The Woods – Flora and Fauna

Coppiced Sweet Chestnut against a winter sky

The woodland is typical of the High Weald landscape, clothing the ridges and valley sides right down to the banks of the two streams that converge at the wood’s southern tip and eventually make their way to the sea via the River Medway.

The bulk of the wood is characterized by Sweet Chestnut, Silver Birch, Alder, Oak and Ash and the associated shrub layer of Coppice Hazel, Holly and Hawthorn.

Orange Tip Butterfly

The ground is rich in flora and carpeted with the flowers of bluebells and wood anemones in the Spring.

The recent re-introduction of coppicing and the restoration of glades and an old meadow increase light penetration and helps the flora, butterflies and other insects thrive. For more information see the Coppicing page of the web site

Bee feeding.The higher slopes of the wood have been laid to a plantation of Sweet Chestnut that is cut for timber on a regular coppice cycle.

One of our Wet Woodlands that dries out in the Summer

A broad array of birdsong can be heard all year round and the resident population of small mammals includes the protected dormouse.

There are several ponds – each with an interesting character and a variety of associated aquatic plants and insects. Amphibians and reptiles are common visitors to these features. Brown trout and fresh-water shrimps have been spotted in the streams. Some of the ponds tend to dry out in the summer and so perhaps should be classified as “Wet Woodland”.

Fish cannot survive in ponds that dry out, and so Wet Woodland is very important for bio-diversity as many species that would otherwise be eaten by the fish have a better chance of survival. Although these areas might not look pretty when they dry out, Wet Woodland is an extremely rich invertebrate habitat, supporting a very large number of species, many of which are now rare in Britain. There have been considerable losses of Wet Woodland habitats in Britain in the last century, mainly due to clearance, conversion to other land-uses, or the lowering of water-tables through drainage or abstraction. It is important, therefore, to retain these areas where possible.

During a walk in Ashplats Woods in November 2011, one of our members spotted 16 different species of birds in a short time frame:

  • Sparrowhawk
  • Wood Pigeon
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker
  • Wren
  • Robin
  • Blackbird
  • Goldcrest
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Blue Tit
  • Great Tit
  • Nuthatch
  • Treecreeper
  • Jay
  • Magpie
  • Carrion Crow
  • Chaffinch