King’s Wood forms part of an extensive area of ancient beech woodland within the Chilterns AONB. Ancient woodland in England is woodland that has existed continuously since 1600 AD. This is about the time that more accurate maps were being produced and also, before this date, the planting of new woodland was uncommon so a wood present in 1600 was likely to have developed naturally. Since it may have been cut many times, Ancient Woodland does not necessarily contain very old trees.
Ancient woodlands are irreplaceable habitats with hugely rich ecosystems that have developed over long periods of time. Over 200 species of flowering plants and over 30 species of birds have been recorded at this 186 acre site, which demonstrates just how important this urban wood is as wildlife site.
Kings Wood was used by bodgers who made the turned parts of chairs which were then assembled in High Wycombe.
As you walk along the paths you will notice that as part of the management of this site we leave as much deadwood in situ as is safely possible, be it whole trees or fallen branches, as it is a crucial part of the woodland ecosystem. We aim for about one fifth of the woodland mix to be deadwood and it is deliberately left in different positions to suit a variety of wildlife. This ranges from full sun – ideal as a hide-away for reptiles, to full shade – perfect for fungi and mosses. When still standing, it is hugely valuable for a wide range of fauna from bats and hole-nesting birds like Nuthatches, Woodpeckers and Blue Tits, to invertebrates such as beetles and flies.
It may not always be neat and tidy – but nature doesn’t really do neat and tidy….
Look out for
Red Cracking Bolete – Xerocomellus chrysenteron
This distinctive mushroom has a brown cap which cracks to show yellow with hints of red under the skin – any damage also shows as cherry-pink or red. The stem is yellow with characteristic rhubarb-red streaks overlaid and as a Bolete it releases spores from tubes and pores instead of gills beneath its cap.
Nuthatch – Sitta europaea
A classic woodland species of bird, a nuthatch resembles a small woodpecker with a blue-grey upper body, chestnut-pink below and a bold black eyestripe. They are incredibly agile birds and can frequently be seen working their way along branches and head-first down tree trunks in search of food. They feed on a variety of insects, seeds and nuts which they often hammer into cracks in trees to split them open.
Hornbeam- Carpinus betulus
There is an old boundary hedge made up of Hornbeam along the edge of this site. The tree has bark which is smooth and grey with a silver sheen and distinctive vertical fissures. The stem is often fluted and like Beech it is shade-tolerant and also keeps its leaves over winter. The pale yellow-white wood of Hornbeam is exceptionally hard and was used to make yokes, the cog teeth of mills, butcher’s blocks and also finer items like chess pieces.