Wiltshire Publications

Reconnect with nature on your doorstep

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THIS new year why not take some time to reconnect with nature and explore some of the beautiful local nature spots in the area.

Clanger Wood, Westbury. Credit – Paul Glendell, WTML

Here in Westbury, The Woodland Trust manages Clanger Wood, a space known for having one of best displays of native bluebells in the county and an abundance of wildlife. And if you want to explore just a little further afield, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust manages a number of nature reserves open to the public to explore with several just a few minutes’ drive away.

Clanger Wood, Westbury – www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/woods/clanger-wood/

About Clanger Wood, The Woodland Trust says, “42 hectares (105 acres) of Clanger Wood were given to the Woodland Trust in 1984 by Robert Kiln. We then purchased Picket Wood in 1989 and Round Wood in 1994 as extensions to the site.

“With one of the best displays of native bluebells in the county and an abundance of butterflies and moths, including rare species, Clanger Wood is a paradise for nature lovers. All sorts of animals thrive in the lush flora from mammals to lizards.”

Widbrook Wood, Trowbridge, BA14 9BL – a semi-natural woodland of 16 hectares; the River Biss flows through the south-eastern section of the wood and the Widbrook, from which it takes its name, flows through the west. The woodland is host to a number of bird species. Near the water look for kingfisher and little grebe. Along the path edge, the scrubby woodland is habitat for migrating warblers such as whitethroat, blackcap and chiffchaff. During May, the woodland comes to life with an abundance of wildflowers.

Smallbrook Meadows, Warminster BA12 9LH. From late spring the white and pink cuckooflowers bloom, followed by the deeper pink of ragged robin and water avens. Summer brings the bright yellows of marsh marigold and yellow iris. Also the pink-purple flower spikes of the southern marsh-orchid. Dragonflies and damselflies will be on the wing – you may see a banded demoiselle. Listen for the ‘plop’ of a water vole diving into the water. Water rails are regular visitors and occasionally kingfishers fly past in a streak of turquoise.

Green Lane Woodland Complex, including Green Lane Wood and Biss Wood, Trowbridge BA14 6GP. Look out for nuthatches, jays and treecreepers. Roe and muntjac deer are hard to spot, but you might see grass snake and slow worm basking in sunshine. In summer purple hairstreak butterflies seek nectar high in the canopy and you can see birds such as bullfinch. Wildflowers include common spotted orchid, Solomon’s seal, bugle and St John’s wort..

Dunscombe Bottom, near Warminster BA12 0JF offering the far-reaching views. If you visit in the summer the land is a patchwork of colour from orchids, early gentian, knapweed, rockroses and eyebright. You can also see marbled white, Adonis blue and small blue butterflies.

Conigre Mead, Melksham SN12 6UL – a lovely mix of ponds, wildflower-rich grassland and shrubs. Easily accessible with good, level paths, you can walk around the meadow, and sit overlooking the Bristol Avon. Volunteers regularly come to clear scrub and maintain ponds for wildlife.

“On sunny days watch the courtship displays of emperor dragonfly, red-eyed and common blue damselfly and the rare white legged damselfly. In spring and summer the meadow is a pink-and-white patchwork of ragged robin and ox-eye daisy, red campion and meadowsweet. Keep an eye out for butterflies such as the orange tip and brimstone – one of the earliest to come out in spring.

“Over the pond, fringed with golden marsh marigolds and yellow iris, you might see the blue flash of a kingfisher. Migrating wading birds, such as the common sandpiper, stop off here and regular visitors include moorhens, mallards and mute swans. You may spot a grass snake sunning itself, or water vole by the river.

“A hidden world of runs and tunnels in the grass are used by small rodents such as voles to get about unseen. The rare water shrew is found here too. Pipistrelle and Daubenton’s bats can be seen on summer nights – mainly along the river, which is also a feeding ground for otters.”

For more information about Clangers Wood visit: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/woods/clanger-wood/

And for more information about nature reserves managed by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, visit the website: www.wiltshirewildlife.org