Sue Bradley from the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust explores the wild side of Barnwood
Autumn is here and there are plenty of places to visit during the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ in the Cotswolds, many of which are looked after by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Sue Bradley explores Barnwood and meets a retired GP who is a g
Barnwood sits on the old Roman road linking Gloucester and Cirencester and once existed in glorious isolation as a village.
Nowadays it’s widely regarded as a suburb of Gloucester, although the expansion of the city has not wiped out its abundant population of wildlife.
One of the reasons for this is its small waterways, including the River Twyver in the south and Wotton Brook, which crosses the middle of the parish; along with the Horsbere Brook flood storage areas and wetland, all of which attract a range of insects, amphibians and birds, such as kingfishers, egrets, mallards and moorhens.
Another spot that’s particularly rich in wildlife is Barnwood Park, with its picturesque arboretum, once part of the landscaped grounds of Barnwood House, a building demolished in 2001. The site off Church Lane is now owned by Gloucester City Council and looked after by volunteers from ‘The Friends of Barnwood Arboretum’, a group initially set up to care for the woodland.
Their efforts have not gone unnoticed, with a Green Flag Award for 2018/9, and a ‘Bees Needs Award’, which recognises parks and community spaces that have made improvements to encourage pollinators, in 2016/17.
The park and arboretum contain a variety of mature trees, most of which are ornamental, with some more than 150 years old. Among their number are six giant redwoods, along with
Atlas cedars, dawn redwoods, turkey oak and Indian bean tree, together with newer additions of Persian ironwood, red oaks and liquidambar, all of which contribute to a glorious display of colour in October. The sites usually host a wealth of fungi too.
The arboretum has a large area of unimproved grassland and an abundance of wildflowers, which attract a number of butterflies on sunny days and moths as the light falls, along with a wildlife pond frequented by dragonflies and amphibians. Meanwhile the park boasts a bed of nectar-rich perennial flowers.
Both sites are home to a range of animals, and provide a valuable habitat for birds, with blackbirds, blue, great and long-tailed tits, dunnocks, goldfinches, lesser black backed gulls, magpies, wrens and robins among the species recorded. Great spotted woodpeckers are regularly seen, along with occasional green ones. A pair of ravens started visiting at the end of last year.
During the summer months it is grazed by Dexter cattle, while sheep take over in autumn and winter, a time when the Friends of Barnwood Arboretum are particularly active in terms of their work to plant and maintain trees and hedges, put up fences, clear scrub, plant bulbs and wildflowers, lay chippings on the paths and put up bat boxes. The arboretum closes at 4.30pm from October to March and 7pm from April to September.
For a tree trail and more information visit: barnwoodarboretumpark. yolasite.com
Kingfishers © Jon Hawkins Surrey Hills Photograph
Barnwood Park tree carving, by Candia Mckormack
Long-tailed tit © Chris Lawrence
Great tit © Chris Lawrence