Thursday, 24 March 2011

Thornet Wood and Sparrow Wood

The walk group outside Thornet Wood in Jubilee Country Park
The walk group outside Thornet Wood in Jubilee Country Park
On 24th March a group set out through Jubilee Country Park, led by Jenny Price of the BCS and accompanied by Jennie Randall, chair of the Friends of the park.

This park is heavily managed in an attempt to maximise biodiversity while maintaining it as a recreational area. The Friends group is very active and manages to find a good deal of useful sponsorship, and runs events and walks all through the year.

We started out through Thornet Wood, a small area of ancient woodland, meaning that it has been managed as woodland for at least 400 years. It has standard oaks, uncut and un-harvested, and coppiced hazel.

The Loosestrife Pond in Jubilee Country Park in March 2011
The Loosestrife Pond in Jubilee Country Park in March 2011
The park's meadows are something to see in the summer, but for now they look like any other open area of grass. It has several seasonal ponds, which dry up for part of the year and so cannot support fish, but are fine for amphibians and plants that like wet ground. In fact, it is the absence of fish which allows the amphibians to flourish.

We passed by one of these which is known as the Loosestrife Pond. It has been partly cleared down to the clay in an attempt to deal with over-vegetation, while leaving half of it untouched to maintain the continuity of wildlife and plants. It is currently full of water, with tadpoles swimming around. In another pond, the recently created Ray's Pond, we saw some toads.

Jenny Price of BCS gesturing towards a pleached hedge across the meadow in Jubilee Country Park
Jenny Price gesturing towards a pleached hedge in Jubilee Country Park
The park has a mixed history. It was once used as a golf course, and the seasonal ponds were once its bunkers. It seems that any work of man will turn into an interesting wildlife environment, if left alone for long enough.

The stream through Sparrow Wood
The stream through Sparrow Wood
Out of the park, we crossed a road into Parkfield Recreation Ground, which runs alongside Bromley golf course. Bromley county has a good supply of golf courses. A pleasant path led us into Sparrow Wood, similar in composition to Thornet Wood but without the same level of current management.

A stream runs through this wood, which eventually feeds into the Kyd Brook. It cuts through the Blackheath gravel which is so common in this area. At one point the party should have crossed the stream, but we could not scramble thorugh the wood to what might have been a good crossing, and the crossing we did find was certainly not achievable by most of the party. So some turned back to find and follow the London Loop route, while others jumped over at a narrow point and waited a little further on, where the woods opened up into Petts Wood Recreation Ground.

Frogspawn in the stream through Sparrow Wood in March 2011.
Frogspawn in the stream through Sparrow Wood in March 2011.
In the shadow of a branch you can see more frogspawn below the surface.
The non-adventurous group eventually caught up, and we followed a few more roads back into Jubilee Country Park. Returning along another path through Thornet Wood, we saw wood anemones and wood violets. During the walk we also saw a few early butterflies; some Brimstones and some brown ones which were not clearly identified.

Wood violets in Thornet Wood, Jubilee Country Park, in March 2011
Wood violets in Thornet Wood, Jubilee Country Park, in March 2011
Here are a few random images from the walk.
An old Elder in Jubilee Country Park covered with ivy and Xanthoria lichen
An old Elder in Jubilee Country Park covered with ivy and Xanthoria lichen. This yellow lichen stands out from a distance.

A discarded bike in Sparrow Wood.
A discarded bike in Sparrow Wood.  The wood is mostly quite tidy.

A split treetrunk in Sparrow Wood.
A split treetrunk in Sparrow Wood. If someone wanted a piece of treetrunk, this does not look like the easiest way to get it.

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