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  • Julie Muller

TIDDESLEY WOOD - Ancient Trees, Rare Beetles And Purple Pershore Plums

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

(Nearest post code - WR10 2AD)

Visited by Zak and Shep

Tiddesley Wood is one of many Nature Reserves owned and managed by the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. We visited this reserve this morning on a lovely September morning with our owners Julie and Rose.

On the way to the wood, we passed a large orchard which was once part of a local thriving fruit industry growing amongst other things the purple Pershore Plum. Many of the fruit trees are very old veteran trees and they are a very important niche for certain rare beetles. Today, all of the trees were laden with fruit and berries and piles of apples littered the undergrowth dislodged by the recent high winds. Shep and I trotted towards the wood, mindful of the sleepy wasps that were attracted to them. From past experience, wasps can have a pretty nasty effect upon us. When our friend Smudge was stung, his ears swelled up and filled with fluid. Poor Smudge!! It must have been a female wasp though – Male wasps don’t have a stinger!!

Like many woodlands in Worcestershire and Herefordshire, Tiddersley Wood comprises ancient semi-natural woodland – meaning that trees have been growing here for a very long time – centuries in fact. In fact, records show that there were trees growing here at the time of the Domesday Book of 1086. At one time the wood formed part of an enclosed deer park owned by the Abbots of Pershore and before the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust acquired it, it was managed on a commercial basis by the Forestry Commission.

When trees have been growing in one place for a very long time, they create a unique mosaic of plants and animals which can’t be replaced quickly should the woodland ever be cut down. Ancient woodlands like this couldn’t be recreated in Shep or my lifespan or indeed in any human’s lifespan who is alive today.

Alike every place that we visit ,Tiddesley changes with the seasons. In the summer, the air is alive with insects and Tiddesley boasts an impressive 27 species of butterfly alone. Today, there were fewer insects around and there was a feeling that every living thing was preparing for the cold seasons of autumn and winter.

The trees were starting to lose their leaves and they drifted down and bounced off Shep’s nose. A few flowers were still in bloom, but most were setting seed. The once purple teasel flowers were devoid of colour and now looked like an arsenal of dwarf sized maces lined up for battle. Our walk took us through paths lined with bramble and pendulous sedge. The sedge heads curved over our backs like a guard of honour and moss festooned the stems and stalks of the shorter plants making the ground look like a prehistoric swamp.

Shep, the Border Collie dog, sits in a bright green moss encrusted forest  of plant stalks in Tiddesley Wood near Pershore in Worcestershire
Shep sitting amongst a sea of moss encrusted stems in Tiddesley Wood

Tiddesley wood is adjacent to military land and red flags are flown when firing practice is occurring and at that time certain parts of the wood are closed to visitors in order to keep us all safe. Today, no red flags were flying and so no loud bangs punctuated the air. I am quite glad because Shep is always so anxious when he hears gun fire.

So many special places are located in or close to MOD land. This is actually really good for wildlife because the land suffers much less disturbance. This situation was mirrored during lockdown earlier this year. The lack of human disturbance encouraged animals and birds to use more of the woodland and to make their homes closer to public footpaths. This year it is even more important for us dogs to keep on the ‘straight and narrow’ with our humans. Many birds nest on the ground and Tiddesley Wood is one of the summer homes of the nightingale – a ground-nesting bird which boasts one of the world’s most elaborate and beautiful songs. The male birds serenade the females as they pass overhead at the end of their long migration. The numbers of nightingales have fallen over the years. One of the reasons is that many birds have been caught and caged to entertain humans with their songs. Unfortunately, the instinct to migrate is so great that many birds die from attempting to escape from their cage.

The sense of freedom is very important to us all and, having endured lockdown for so long, I think that our humans and us have come to value it so much more. As we reached the end of our walk, the sun was beginning to break through the clouds and cast golden light through the trees on to our path. The smell of warm vegetation and slowly fermenting fruit tickled our noses. We were glad to get back into the car but sad to leave this beautiful place behind.

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