Seven essential wildlife events to enjoy this month, compiled by Ben Hoare.
Seven species to look for in November
1 | ATLANTIC OAKWOODS Wild wood
A tree is the “grandest, and most beautiful of all the productions of this Earth”, wrote the artist William Gilpin in 1791. Published during the Romantic era, his influential book
Remarks on Forest Scenery promoted the idea of woods as picturesque places that stir the soul. That is certainly true of Wistman’s Wood, on Dartmoor in Devon, which is often described as ‘magical’ or ‘fairytale’. In one of his columns for BBC Wildlife
Magazine, nature writer Richard Mabey called it a “goblin” wood and quoted novelist John Fowles: “It is the silence, the waitingness of the place, that is so haunting.”
The wizened, stunted oaks of Wistman’s Wood are contorted into strange shapes by a combination of exposure to prevailing winds and poor soil. They look especially dramatic when leafless after autumn gales. Similar woods can be found clinging to damp hillsides in other parts of south-west England, such as Exmoor and the Quantock Hills, and in the far west of Wales and Scotland. Ecologists refer to them as Atlantic oakwoods, or – more poetically – ‘Celtic rainforest’. They are nationally important for lichens and three groups of ancient, flowerless plants: mosses, ferns and liverworts. Wistman’s Wood alone supports around 120 species of lichen.
Help record ancient trees at: ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk National Tree Week is 24 November– 2 December: treecouncil.org.uk