Jonathan Cox, Isle of Wight Recorders Conference 2017
Biological Recording and its influence on
wildlife conservation at Briddlesford
158 ha (390 acres)
117 ha Woodland (incl. 15 ha of Jigsaw)
41 ha of Grassland & saltmarsh
95.56 ha SSSI/SAC (of total 167.5 ha)
A History of Biological Recording and Conservation
Vegetation & habitat survey and SSSI notification (the 1980s)
PTES purchase (the 1990s)
Red squirrel and early dormouse research
Jigsaw woodlands (the 2000s)
Discovering bats – 2002 survey and effects on management
Botanical surveys and management
Bird surveys and management
Dormouse survey and the national network
How are the squirrels doing?
Invertebrate surveys and management
1866 Map of Briddlesford:.1793 Map of Briddlesford from survey of Captain William Mudge:
Vegetation and flora survey:
Neil Sanderson (2007)
The Sanderson survey identified a total of 19 Peterken stand types from the Briddlesford
Copses within the ownership of the PTES – more than any other on the Island.
‘The woodland complex has a superb representation of the range of communities making
up the lowland mixed Atlantic Bluebell Woods (Endymio – Carinetum in the Carpinion).’
‘Floristically this survey demonstrated the woodland flora is among the richest in England
for woodland vascular plants’.
‘A total of 65 (AWVP) have been recorded from the Briddlesford Copses owned by the PTES.
This is one of the highest number of AWVP for any woodland in Britain. For example, of the
53 richest woods in south east England listed by Rose (1999) only six woods have more AWVP
than the Briddlesford Copses. ‘
‘Acid Sessile Oak woodland is rare on the Island and in Hampshire. Stands with ancient
woodland mosses are even rarer.‘
‘The ancient riverine woodland in Great Wood developing into old growth woodland is a
very rare feature anywhere in the lowlands of western Europe.’
Vegetation and flora survey:
Neil Sanderson (2007)
The epiphytic lichen flora is probably the
richest overall known on the Island.
How do we manage the woodland?
Coppicing: 25 ha since 1993
Jessica Holm PhD - early 1980s
“The Case of the Vanishing Squirrel” 1987
Pat Morris and the RHLU Students
Red Squirrel Ecology – Key Points
Walters Copes (WC) 0.3-0.7/ha
Briddlesford Copse (BC) 1 – 1.6/ha.
(mean = 0.85/ha or about 100 red squirrels in PTES woodland at Briddlesford)
Fattingpark Copse (FC) 0.6-1.1/ha
Hazel is by far the most important food source for squirrels in deciduous woodland.
Determines the pattern of behaviour throughout the year. Squirrels were able to
survive (at lower densities) in deciduous woodland where hazel was patchy. Oak
provides a critical food source in mid winter when the fungi (Vuillemenia sp) is
stripped from beneath the bark on the underside of dead and dying branches.
Periods of activity
In winter activity is limited to a relatively short period of the morning with peak just
before noon. In summer bi-modal activity was recorded with peaks in morning and
afternoon and a rest period in middle of the day.
Mean total adult male range = 5.7 ha (3.5 ha FC, 5.3 ha BC, 6.4 ha WC)
Mean total adult female range = 3.6 ha (2.8 ha FC, 3.0 ha BC, 4.1 ha WC)
Mean core adult male range = 1.1 ha (1.0 ha FC & BC, 1.5 ha WC)
Mean core adult female range = 1.0 ha (0.8 ha FC, 1.0 ha BC, 1.1 ha WC)
Red Squirrel Monitoring
Numbers of red squirrels observed on 1,200m transect (2002-2012)
Dormice have been surveyed since at least 1996.
Two dormouse survey areas established to contribute data to the
National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP)
Briddlesford Copse (Site No 85) approximately 250 dormouse boxes
Smaller Copses (Site No. 7) approximately 280 boxes.
The Bat Story
Non breeding adult femaleBreeding adult female
Bat radio tracking: 4th, 5th and 6th of
The Bat Story
Survey in June 2002 has revealed one of the most important bat populations in the UK.
The colony of 57 Bechstein’s bats was one of only three confirmed maternity colonies in
Two Bechstein’s bat roosts were located during the survey and both in ash trees with
In the stocker’s hole roost site, the Bechstein’s maternity colony shared the same limb
with a small colony of Noctule bats.
The roost sites were also surrounded by cluttered vegetation (hazel coppice).
Radio tagged Bechstein bats spent the majority of their foraging time within the canopy
of trees within smaller woodlands around the main wooded area of Briddlesford Copse
and over the Wootton Mill Pond.
Briddlesford designated SAC in 2003 because of its Bechstein’s bat population.
Adam Wright Survey: 2002
Identified a particularly rich hoverfly fauna with 94 species being recorded including
several old woodland indicator species some of which had not been previously recorded
from the Island.
A total of 16 species of soldier beetle were recorded from Briddlesford in 2002 (almost
40% of the British list) many of these are restricted to woodland habitats.
Ten species of longhorn beetle were recorded. All these species are strongly associated
with woodland with their larvae developing in rotting twigs, branches and stumps of
Keith Alexander: 2012
Briddlesford was proven to be of special nature conservation interest for the following
Wood-decay (saproxylic) invertebrates – 150 species identified so far, and of SSSI
quality in its own right; site condition appears favourable at present;
And also of significance are:
Ancient woodland molluscs;
Fungus associates, especially fungus gnats.
And to a lesser extent:
Wetland vegetation along Wootton Creek and the stream valleys;
Bare ground and open grassland species associated mainly with the farmland track
Tree and shrub canopy fauna;
Woodland interior species of dappled-shade conditions;
Overall, a total of 395 invertebrate species were identified in Briddlesford Copses during
2012, bringing the grand total for known invertebrate species to 650.
The Nationally Scarce (NS) false darkling beetle
Inverts from the Park
Other surveys and research
Niels Brouwers PhD Thesis on Wood Cricket Nemobius sylvestris at
Dave Dana – ongoing survey and monitoring dragonflies and damselflies
found in the 13 ponds with useful notes on many other species
Butterfly Transects (we need help!)
Moths at Briddlesford
In his 2012 survey report Keith Alexander stated; ‘It would seem likely that the
reserve will be found to be of significant interest for lichen-feeding moths (macros
and micros) in due course.’
Isle of Wight moth group survey in August and September 2013.
Discovered a remarkably rich moth fauna consisting of 16 Notable, Local and RDB
species including Red Data Book listed Dark Crimson Underwing Catocala sponsa.
Retain large tracts of mature and veteran
oaks in open woodland situations.
•Mature oak stands should be retained
wherever possible as this habitat is of high
conservation value and home to many
•Aim to provide a continuity of supply of
mature oak trees, including mature oak in
•The adult moth is readily recorded at
artificial bait and at sap runs, suggesting that
sap runs may be important for this species in
its natural habitat.
Birds at Briddlesford
Point count surveys of farmland and woodland edge – 2002, 2007 & 2016
Barn owl box checks and ringing
Woodland transect survey 2013 & 2017 (Woodcock?)
New woodlands have increased population of scrub & wood edge nesting
birds such as Song thrush, Chiffchaff & Whitethroat
Barn owls remain widespread
Woodpeckers remain abundant but no Lesser spotted woodpeckers
Marsh tits are no longer present
Woodland birds generally rather poor – e.g. no Nuthatch, Tawny owl
Farmland birds limited – no Skylark, Linnet, Meadow pipit, Yellow-hammer
Point count survey 2016
28 points distributed across farmland area
Baseline in 2002, repeated in 2007 and 2016
Results show increases in scrub and woodland edge species such as Song
thrush, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blackbird, Green woodpecker
Absence of other farmland birds including Linnet, Yellow hammer
Nightingale – present in 2002 but not now despite improved habitat