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Trees, plants and wildlife in Warneage Wood

The main tree species in Warneage Wood are oak and ash, with other trees such as field maple, small-leaved lime and hazel having a significant presence.

Shrubbier species such as guelder rose, spindle, hawthorn and blackthorn are present in the wood. Trees tolerant of wetter conditions – such as alder and goat willow – are also found here, as are old crack willows. These old trees are a notable conservation feature throughout Warneage Wood, many of them ancient pollards. Some have even been re-pollarded in the recent past. Often the crack willows have split and/or toppled, resulting in interesting character trees. These are full of niches for wildlife, particularly beetles and other insects. Where the branches of these trees have embedded in the wet ground, they frequently layer, forming tangled clumps, typical of certain types of native wet woodland.

Areas of previously agricultural grassland were planted in 1994/5 with locally present broadleaved tree and shrub species, including black poplar. These will help increase the local population and improve the survival prospects of what is otherwise considered a rare species in Britain.

Rough grasslands and developing new woodland makes this an ideal hunting ground for birds. There are prominent mature trees in the hedgerows and many of the old field boundary hedgerows are gradually becoming incorporated into an irregular mosaic of woodland.

It also boasts an orchard of traditional Wiltshire apple trees, planted by the local community in February 2014.

Wildlife

Warneage Wood features an abundance of wildlife. On sunny days, look for ringlet, comma, and marble white butterflies fluttering among the wild flowers along the footpaths. Other invertebrates to be seen hovering over the pond, depending on the weather and the season, include dragonflies such as the ruddy darter, southern hawker; migrant hawker, common darter and broad-bodied chaser; and damsel flies such as the large red and azure blue.

Birds include the grey wagtail – a key predator of all damselflies – buzzard and tawny owl; while mammals include deer, squirrel and rabbit.

Because of its range of wildlife, Warneage Wood has been designated a Site of Special Wildlife Interest (SSWI).