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Trees, plants and wildlife in Credenhill Park Wood

Wildlife

Credenhill Park Wood is recognised as a special wildlife site. Fallow deer graze in the wood, as do roe and muntjac. Other recorded mammals are grey squirrel and badger, the latter having a large and long-established sett in the north-east corner of the hill-fort ramparts. It is also a great place to see and hear woodland birds. You can often hear the drumming of great spotted woodpecker and, at dusk, the evocative call of the tawny owl. Songbirds include blackbird, robin and blue tit.  Look out too for daytime raptors, including buzzards, kestrels and goshawks.

Another feature of the wood is its seasonal pond, which is heavily silted and often dries out. It’s rated as being of ‘very high’ importance for a range of scarce invertebrate species, including one rare water beetle species that is associated with shady ponds and the silver washed fritillary butterfly – a species indicative of recovering semi-natural woodland.

Trees, plants and fungi

If you get the chance to visit in spring you will be met by drifts of bluebells and other wild flowers in the ancient broadleaf areas of the wood. Look out for early purple orchid and herb-paris (lover’s knot), and be ready for the pungent aroma of wild garlic which announces its presence long before you see it.

Other plants to look out for include:
• dog’s mercury
• lords-and-ladies
• round-leaved sundew
• wild strawberry
• wood sorrel
• hart’s tongue fern
• lesser celandine
• opposite-leaved saxifrage
• primrose

Last, but not least, on a winter walk you may come across scarlet elf cup fungi. They look just like scraps of bright red wax from an Edam cheese.

Further detail for those interested:

Tree List

The lowland mixed-broadleaved woodland is dominated by oak, while the conifer areas are dominated by larch and Douglas fir.

Although there are no particularly invasive species within the wood, Norway maple and rhododendron in small numbers can be found on the southern slopes.

Also present are ash, hazel, blackthorn, whitebeam, sycamore, cherry, wych elm, elder, yew, field maple, sweet chestnut, goat willow, hawthorn, beech, lime, alder, elm, birch, holly, hornbeam, willow, crack willow, laurel and small-leaved lime.

Plant List

Bracken is by far the dominant species in coniferous forest undergrowth, while bramble is most abundant in the semi-natural ancient woodland undergrowth. Quarrying within the woodland has brought more alkaline (calcareous) soils to the surface, bringing about a proliferation of spurge-laurel. Parts of the woodland are also fairly boggy, allowing species typical of wet woodlands and riversides to flourish.

Other notable, plant species to be found include: early purple orchids, round leaved sundew (within the boggier parts of the wood), common tansy, many species of umbellifers, many species of clematis, dog’s mercury, wild strawberry, bluebell, lesser celandine, common nettle, goosegrass, lords-and-ladies, woodspurge, primrose, dog-rose, pendulous sedge, dog violet, herb Robert, coltsfoot, opposite-leaved golden-saxifrage, rush, giant willowherb; rosebay willowherb; honeysuckle, wild garlic, yellow archangel, wood sorrel, common foxglove, old man’s beard/traveller’s joy,  ivy, hart’s tongue fern, tutsan, box, wood anemone, buttercup, hedge woundwort, common figwort, bugle; sheep’s fescue, and herb Paris.

Fungi

Few species surveys of fungi have been conducted within Credenhill Park Wood, but several rare populations call the wood their home. Some have common names which you may have heard of: firerug inkcap (an agaric); a good number of black-footed polypore and purplepore bracket; and scarlet elf cup. However, many are only known by their Latin names which may not be familiar. These include Marssonina daphnes, a rarely recorded species with visible as brownish pustules on the underside of still attached but fading spurge-laurel leaves; Plagiosphaera immerse with its sea urchin-like fruitbodies; agarics coprinopsis marcescibilis and clitocybe vermicularis, the latter a vernal species with a brown cap, rhizoids at the stipe base and with small spores, rarely recorded in Herefordshire; and tubaria pallidispora.