Thursday, May 11, 2017

Brampton Wood Bluebells

Woodland filled with bluebells at Brampton Wood Nature Reserve

Last week I took a trip to Brampton Wood, in search of bluebells, in fact I took two trips as it's a fairly large wood, and I couldn't do it justice in just one visit. In fact two trips barely grazes the surface of this fascinating place, but as it was the bluebell display I was after, that would just have to do, for now.

Brampton Wood, at 326 acres, is the second largest ancient woodland in Cambridgeshire, and is at least 900 years old. The first records date back to the Doomsday Book, “woodland pasture - half a league long and 2 furlongs wide”, when animals such as pigs used to feed on acorns. A large earth bank marks its ancient boundary, the bank and ditch barrier were built in the Middle Ages, to protect the wood from invading cattle and to keep pasture animals inside. There are several other minor banks and ditches within the wood, thought to be prehistoric field drainage systems. 

Brampton Wood covered in white seeds in the spring
When I first entered the woodland, it looked there had been a recent snowfall. These are seeds that have
been blown down from trees ( I don't know what sort) and covered the floor all around.

Seeds cover the ground at Brampton Wood making it look like a snowfall
I liked the contrast between the fresh green leaves and the ivory carpeted ground.

Beautiful bluebells line a wooodland path at Brampton Wood in Cambridgeshire
The wood is home to around 340 plant and 500 fungi species, including of course, a healthy population of
bluebells in spring.

The trees are mostly oak, ash and field maple, and in the past the wood has been used for hazel poles, timber, and hay as well as oak bark for tanning. Virtually the entire wood was clear felled, probably during the First World War, and has since regenerated naturally by growth from old stumps and seeds. The site’s national importance was recognised in 1954 when it was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest. 

Brampton Wood bluebells lie beneath a bright green canopy of new leaves
New spring canopy above an indigo carpet.

Vibrant green and blue image in Brampton Wood Nature Reserve
Can't get enough of these colours.

Clouds and sunshine over a bright yellow field of rape near Brampton Wood
As I was walking around the perimeter of the woods I spotted this golden rape field, so I squeezed through a
gap to get a photo.

Bluebells cover the ground next to a woodland path in Cambridgeshire
A bit of sunshine lights up the jewelled ground.

There are over one and a half miles of woodland rides here, some are at least 200 years old. The creation of rides and glades mimic natural processes of fires and storms (such as the 1987 hurricane) which open up expanses of woodland to sunlight, allowing ground flora to flourish, taller grassland areas to thrive, and fallen trees to rot down. Thanks to this management, the wood has thriving colonies of black hairstreaks, one of Britain’s rarest butterflies. Brown argus, white admiral and purple hairstreak can also be spotted.

Shallow depth of field in a bluebell woodland with vibrant colours
A dense crop of flowers.

A tangle of trees in the Brampton Wood Nature Reserve
These gnarled old trees sit on top of an enormous badger sett, constructed over many years by opportunist
badgers in a World War 1 shooting practice mound.

Brampton Wood badger set with green foliage and gnarled trees
One of the many entrances to the sett.

As I was blundering around getting some shots, I obviously disturbed the inhabitants, and a young badger poked his head up to see what all the noise was about. He wasn't around long enough for me to get a shot, but it was the first live badger I'd ever seen, so I was pretty chuffed, even though it was just a fleeting acquaintance. 

Brampton Wood bluebells in shallow focus with a white bell in macro
A white bell conspicuous amongst all the blue.

Bluebells and a fallen branch in this macro shot from Brampton Wood
I love the vibrant colours this time of year.

Close up image of bluebells on the woodland floor in Brampton Wood
A view from the perspective of the woodland inhabitants.

Vibrant blues and greens of a spring woodland in Brampton Wood Nature Reserve
A jumble of greens and blues stretching into the distance.

Brampton Wood bluebells in spring line a small woodland track
One of the many little paths that traverse the wood.

Brampton Wood Nature Reserve woodland spring bluebells
Squashed bluebells.

Unfortunately some areas had been trampled down, whether by people of dogs it was hard to say, although I did see quite a few 'paths' obviously made by people, leaving a trail of crushed flowers. Which is a shame, and unnecessary, as bluebells are very sensitive to disturbance, and take several years to recover once they have been damaged.

Brampton Wood Nature Reserve in Cambridgeshire full of bluebells
While it's nice to have some sun on the flowers, their colour really pops when they are in shade.

Bright yellow rape field in the afternoon sunshine with wind turbines and a brooding sky
On the way out I took the opportunity to get a couple of shots of these huge wind turbines in a rape field.

Dramatic landscape of wind turbines in a yellow field under a sky full of storm clouds
The stormy clouds and late afternoon sunshine seemed to work well with these impressive structures. 

1 comment:

  1. I have been reliably informed by Wildlife Trust Warden Tim Fryer, that the seeds are from Aspens (Populus tremula), in fact, there are more this year than anyone can remember.