Wildlife at Cadora Woods

Forty-three species of butterfly have been recorded, including the red admiral, pictured. (Photo: WTML/A. Lewis)

On summer evenings there’s a chance visitors may spot lesser horseshoe bats as a population is active in the woodland for part of the year. One of the UK’s rarest bat species, the lesser horsehoe, is small (weighing little more than the weight of a 10p coin) and fast-flying.

They rarely fly more than 5m (16ft) above the ground, hunting flies and small moths. The bats are active throughout the night, usually emerging from their daytime roosts half an hour after sunset. 

Two other bat species use the woods, common pipistrelle and long-eared. They are among a total of 22 terrestrial mammal species that have been recorded.

Fallow deer lived in the area before the last Ice Age, but the deer in the valley now are relatively recent arrivals, introduced by the Normans. Grey squirrels are now common, having replaced the area’s native red squirrels in the 1940s.

Badger and red fox are common. (Photo: WTML)

Wild boar live nearby, including at Penyard Park and Highmeadow Woods, but as yet none have been recorded in Cadora Woods. 

Badger and red fox are common, while polecat have recently returned to the region. Two small mammals, dormouse and yellow-necked mouse, are closely dependent on the woodlands; both having a marked preference for the sort of ancient woodland and overgrown hedges that can be found at Cadora Woods.

Other mammals recorded include American mink, bank vole, common shrew, hedgehog, mole, otter, pygmy shrew, water shrew, weasel and wood mouse.  

Birds

Cadora Woods is home to 115 bird species, including many woodland birds such as redstart, wood warbler and all three of the UK woodpeckers – the green and lesser- and greater-spotted. 

There’s also a chance to see six birds of prey: buzzard, goshawk, hobby; kestrel, peregrine falcon and red kite. Other species to look out for include raven, grey wagtail, tawny owl, pied flycatcher, treecreeper, woodcock, brambling, jay, nightingale, redshank, redwing and mistle thrush.

Amphibians and reptiles

Three reptile species have been recorded – grass snake, adder and common lizard – while the only amphibian species on record is the common frog. 

Invertebrates 

The woods and Highbury Fields have such a diversity of flowering plants that they support many insects and other invertebrate species. 

In all, 43 species of butterfly have been recorded, including small tortoiseshell, orange tip, purple emperor, ringlet, dark green fritillary, silver-washed fritillary, brown argus, green hairstreak, holly blue, clouded yellow, marsh fritillary, peacock, white admiral, marbled white, large tortoiseshell, speckled wood, silver-studded blue, common blue, gatekeeper, red admiral and painted lady. 

Moth species are even more abundant, with a total of 261 species recorded. They include alder moth, poplar grey, march moth, orange moth, lilac beauty, garden tiger, oak beauty, scarlet tiger, ruddy carpet, annulet, common marbled carpet, lesser-spotted pinion, mocha, purple clay, small phoenix, dusky thorn, cloaked carpet, dwarf pug, alder kitten, waved carpet, riband wave, water carpet, black arches, lime hawk-moth, flame shoulder, marbled minor, square spot, rivulet, grey arches, emperor moth, lobster moth, and early grey.

The woods are also home to a total of 126 beetle species, 35 different bees and wasps, six grasshopper species, 14 true bugs and a total of 117 species of fly. In summer, visitors may also see some of the 15 different species of dragonflies and damselflies that have been recorded. They include the UK’s largest dragonfly, the emperor, which grows to a length of nearly 8cm (3in).

Slugs and snails are abundant along the River Wye, which forms the western boundary of the woods. Lots of species can also be found in the woodland itself; a total of 92 species having been recorded in the area.

Things to see and do