Fore Wood, Crowhurst, East Sussex, and its butterflies, flowers, bryophytes and ferns. 30.06.23
Fore Wood is an RSPB nature reserve just outside Crowhurst. I reached Crowhurst by train from Brighton, via St Leonards Warrior Square. There are 2 trains an hour to St Leonards, and the journey time is 1hr 24 minutes. There is a train from St Leonards to Crowhurst twice an hour and the journey time in 10 minutes. From the station, follow the road in front (there is only one road, which ends at the station) until it joins the main Foreword Lane at a T-junction. Turn right and pass the village hall, look for the footpath sign on the left-hand side at the first bend. Follow this path 0.5 miles across the fields to the reserve.
Map is a screen shot from the OS App OS Maps App | Get Unlimited UK mapping on mobile & online (ordnancesurvey.co.uk)
All sections of text in italics are quotations, sources sited.
The photographs in this post are presented chronologically (in the order in which I saw things)
I am only an amateur naturalist; thus all identifications are provisional; if you note a mistake in identification please feel free to tell me. If you want to contact me about any aspect of this blog, email me at simeon[underscore]elliott[at]gmail[dot]com.
This is a glorious and peaceful woodland near Crowhurst, with fascinating 'ghylls' – steep-sided little ravines in the sandstone – where rare ferns grow. [In summer] Fore Wood has good populations of silver-washed fritillary and white admiral butterflies. Early summer, the beautiful demoiselle dragonflies will be flying - watch for their brilliant blue colour and almost black wings. Fore Wood Nature Reserve, East Sussex - The RSPB
Nearer to Hastings, many rich gills occur. Fore Wood Crowhurst (RSPB reserve, TQ7512) has two deep gills with walls of rock on their sides, and waterfalls. Here there area again much Luzula sylvatica and Dryopteris aemula, and the noteworthy bryophytes Fissidens rivularis (on waterfalls) and Tetrodontium brownianum (on sandstone rock underhangs). Other species of note include the mosses Fissidens exiguus, on moist rock, Leucobryum juniperoideum, Hookeria lucens on wet stream sides, and the epiphytes Cryphaea heteromalla and Ulota crispa. Francis Rose (1995) The Habitats and Vegetation of Sussex, Brighton Borough Council.
Fore Wood is a classic Ghyll Wood. Due to their isolation and enclosed nature, Ghylls have a unique microclimate, often rich in bryophytes and other moisture loving plant species. Ghyll woodlands are found in the extreme upper reaches of rivers, where springs and streams first form in small, steep, wooded valleys. The steep sided nature of Ghyll’s has also ensured that many Ghyll woodlands have remained untouched and undisturbed by human activity. Ghyll woodlands have an unusual micro-climate and they are therefore unique.
The flora found in these sites is very characteristic of former Atlantic conditions - including lush growths of ferns (such as hay scented buckler fern), mosses and liverworts. Many are likely to be primary woodland sites (potentially dating from the ice-age) and some have received relatively little disturbance, pollution or management. ...
Over 6% of the High Weald in Sussex is classed as ‘Ghyll’ woodland. This rare habitat type is a unique landscape feature of this part of Sussex and of the UK. Ghyll woodland in these terms specifically applies to the woodland found in the Sandstone and Hastings beds of the High Weald. Wet woodland | Sussex Wildlife Trust
I did indeed see a Silver-Washed Fritillary, White Admiral (but it did not stop long enough for a photo) and a Beautiful Demoiselle. I saw some interesting ferns and mosses, but none of the bryophytes listed by Rose, partly because the sides of the ghylls are very steep and many of the banks of the ghylls can not be reached safely. However, I did see some interesting epiphytic bryophytes.
The path to Fore Wood
Hard Fern, Struthiopteris spicant
Common Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum
Wood Sage, Teucrium scorodonia
Bent Grass sp., Agrostis sp.
Yorkshire Fog, Holcus lanutus
Slender St John's-Wort, Hypericum pulchrum
Selfheal, Prunella vulgaris
Scaly Male Fern, Dryoperis affinis
Enchanter's Nightshade, Circaea luttiana
Probably, Endive Pellia Apopellia endiviifolia, with probably Common Pouchwort, Calypogeia fissa, and a moss
Probably Leskea polycarpa, Many-fruited Leskea
Common Pocket-Moss, Fissidens taxifolius
Common Feather-Moss, Kindbergia praelonga
Silver-washed fritillary, Argymmis paphia
Beutiful Demoiselle, Calopteryx virgo
Lesser Burdock, Arctium minus
Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta
Marsh Thistle, Cirsium palustre
Wood Sage, Teucrium scorodonia
Soft Rush, Juncus effusus
Beech, Fagus sylvatica
Probably Hairy St John's-wort, Hypericum hirsutum and Common Nettle, Urtica dioica
Ghyll with Hard Ferns
Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea
Probably Broad Buckler-fern, Dryopteris dilatat
Horn Calcareous Moss, Mnium Hornum
Polypody Fern Polypodium sp, either P. vulgare or P. intejectum, growing epiphytically, on Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa, which is quite unusual in Sussex, with Tree Moss, Isothecium myosurides
Bank Haircap Moss, Polytrichum formosum
Hard-fern Stuthiopteris spicant with unidentified moss
Wood fern sp. Drypoteris sp.
Wood fern sp. Drupoteris sp.
Bryophytes on ghyll's sides
Hart's-tongue Thyme-moss, Plagiomnium undulatum
Conocephalum sp liverwort
Probably Common Powderhorn lichen, Cladonia coniocraea
Stump on which the above lichen was growing, Common Powderhorn, Cladonia coniocraea, is often found on tree stumps on High Weald ghyll woods
Greater Bird's Foot Trefoil, Lotus pendunculatus