A Grey Squirrel in a familiar upright posture. Grey
Squirrels were introduced into Britain from North America and during the 20th Century
underwent a population explosion. They are extremely agile and can leap over 6
metres using their powerful hind legs to move from tree to tree. They are mostly
active at dawn and dusk and eat a variety of foods including hazelnuts and acorns, but
will also eat tree bark, flowers, fungi, shoots, buds, young birds in their nests and
eggs. It is their habit of stripping tree bark which is most damaging and Grey
Squirrels are considered as pests for this reason. Many of the trees they damage get
diseased or disfigured in growth. Grey Squirrels have an acute sense of smell and
during cold spells in winter they can find foods which they stored underground at an
earlier date. They do not hibernate but sleep in a drey constructed with sticks and
twigs and lined with softer material. This is usually situated high in a tree.
They communicate with each other using flicking movements of their long bushy
A Ground Beetle found on the forest floor.
Ground Beetles are carnivorous insects often found on the woodland floor.
They are quite capable of using their sharp external jaws called mandibles to chew through
slugs and earth worms many times their own size. There are several species in
Britain including the Bombardier Beetle and the Violet Ground Beetle. The latter are
very aggressive towards each other and will kill many of the invertebrates in the
area in which they live. Ground Beetles hunt mostly at night either on or in the
ground, but sometimes crawl up into plants and trees in search of prey. They are
useful to gardeners and farmers as they prey on many of the species which are pests to
crops. Eggs are laid on or in the ground and the larvae which hatch out will feed
underneath leaf litter. Some species rear their young in specially created
underground chambers where they guard the eggs and lick fungal spores away from them.
Harts Tongue ferns have long and pointed pale
green shiny leaves. They get their name from the fact that the leaves
resemble the shape of the long tongue of a deer, or hart as it was known in old english.
They are found in woodlands, in walls and hedgerows. Harts Tongue ferns
prefer alkaline soil. Their leaves are up to 60 cm in length and have a
heart shaped base. Like other ferns, they have a primitive way of reproducing,
involving the production of spores from the backs of their leaves which are usually
released during July and August. These spores are tiny yet have fine surface detail
which enables the wind to blow them large distances. If they land on damp ground
they can produce a tiny ground level plant which allows sperm to fertilize an egg and a
new Harts Tongue fern can then grow.