November 26, 2020
The steep bank to the north marks the edge of the Limestone Rag, the old coral reef that forms the top of the hill. The main trees are ash with some sycamore. They are quite young with many growing up in the late 1950s when the rabbit population in Wytham as elsewhere crashed through myxomatosis. The rabbits had kept tree growth in check by nibbling the seedlings.
Wytham Woods is an ancient semi-natural woodland, which has been owned and maintained by the University of Oxford since 1942. Its 1000 acres are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and are one of the most researched pieces of woodland in the world, exceptionally rich in flora and fauna, with over 500 species of plants, a wealth of woodland habitats, and 800 species of butterflies and moths. The Woods can be divided into four main habitats. The forested area is a simple three-way split between ancient semi-natural woodland, secondary woodland, and modern plantations. The fourth key habitat is the limestone grassland found at the top of the hill. Other smaller habitats include a valley-side mire and a series of ponds. The ancient woods date back to the last Ice Age, while the secondary woodland dates to the seventeenth century and the plantations to the 1950s and 1960s. Through our Chronolog stations, we hope to gain greater insights into how climate change and other processes are changing phenology within the woods. Our post descriptions were provided by https://theoldmanofwytham.com/.