Whitelands provides a home for many species, and the diversity is always increasing. This summer has been one of the best for wildlife watching, and so which inspired us to create a brief summary of our regular inhabitants.

Butterflies and Moths

A hawk-moth caterpillar found during firewood preparation.

Several areas within the woodland are managed specifically for butterfly conservation. The Duke of Burgundy butterfly, Grizzled and Dingy Skippers make residence within the wood, as well as many more abundant species. Along with these regulars, a Purple Emperor Butterfly was spotted at the bottom of the plantation in June. 

Birds 

A willow tit, taken by Frank Spooner in early June 2018.

Ornithological surveys have been carried out since 2008, showing a significant increase in  bird species over the years. Different areas of the woodland are maintained for different species, from buzzards and green woodpeckers nesting in the ash, to firecrests foraging in the conifers, to willow tits in the young and somewhat unruly plantation. 

Reptiles 

An adult adder slipping away into the plantation, taken by Frank Spooner, June 2018.

We have both adders and grass snakes occupying the plantation, and common lizards often frequent the saw dust in the saw yard. Grass snakes have certainly been breeding in the area, as have slow worms. Only adult adders have been spotted so far. We recently discovered a large female grass snake and a common lizard sharing the shelter of an old tarpaulin by the saw mill- maybe a rare case of reptilian inter-species tolerance.


Bats

Pipistrelle bats make use of the woodlands larger, older trees as roosts and unique patchwork habitat for foraging. Yew trees on the steepest slopes provide a grand roost for Whitelands bats.

Other Mammals

Small mammal species composition at Whitelands is reasonably typical of South Downs woodlands, with the exception of Harvest mice spotted in the early stages of the plantation. Grey squirrels and rabbits are all too common, with the occasional visit from a brown hare.
As with all managed woodland, deer can pose a threat to young saplings. A regular deer stalker is brought in for control of roe and fallow. Muntjack have been spotted in the area but are yet to be found on Whitelands land.

Bees

Three managed hives and two wild hives of honey bees, as well as currently undetermined numbers of solitary and bumble bee species.

Seasonal Pond

Due to the chalk base and slope of the land, the pond dug at the end of the plantation drains and fills according to season. Filling up from groundwater draining down the slope in Autumn/Winter, the water lasts until Spring, providing a nursery for frogs, common newts and dragonflies. The annual change in flora is always intriguing. This year we were excited to find a moorhen with five chicks living alongside our chickens at the side of the pond.