Woodpeckers and butterflies & lots more besides at Highwoods

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Green Woodpeckers were calling and Brimstone butterflies were flitting about as Highwoods Preservation Society officers invited the public to join them on a guided walk.

The society’s first walk of the year is always entitled Looking For Signs of Spring.

After the wettest Winter on record, the signs were certainly there – and doubly welcome.

Standing in for society woodland warden Alan Malpass, treasurer Alan Dengate explained to newcomers that the 87-acre beauty spot that the charity cares for under a management agreement with Rother District Council is possibly the finest surviving example of sessile oak coppice in England.

The walkers set off down the Janet Baker trail.

The society’s second access-for-all footpath was opened two years ago and is named after a supporter whose generous bequest made the wheelchair-friendly route possible.

The new trail gives access to an area under power cables. This has to be kept clear so trees do not foul the cables.

The society has taken over responsibility for this work from the power company, enabling a more sympathetic approach which is encouraging the growth of heathers and provides a woodland-edge habitat for butterflies.

The treasurer explained the importance of retaining standing dead timber as a wildlife habitat

Woodpecker holes abound in a dying Scots Pine near the entrance to the woods. The abundance on lichen on many trees is an indicator of good air quality.

The first Adders of the season had been seen sunning themselves by volunteers on a recent woodland work-party.

The visitors were shown how Leaf Miners tunnel through the thickness of a leaf and heard how Brimstone butterflies have a sense of smell so acute that one could home in on the Highwoods’ Alder Buckthorn food source from as far distant as Little Common roundabout.