Hidden away across the county border in Staffordshire, down a path which would have connected the old village of Stourton with the thriving village of Kinver, lies an area of unusual woodland. Planted in the 19th century as an ornamental wood, Chance Wood is dominated by large oaks and beech with specimens of yes, hornbeam, ash and sweet chestnut. The wood was donated to our Trust in 1977 by the Holmes family of Stourton Court.
In effect the wood must have been an early version of our current passion for 'wildlife gardening'. However, years of neglect led to an impenetrable palisade of sycamore by the early 1980s, not helped by the spread of the once fashionable rhododendron.
On the face of it, not a great recipe for a nature reserve but on Sunday morning when I ventured into the wood to survey the effects of Saturday's work party I was surrounded by a large party of long-tailed tits accompanied by blue and great tits, nuthatch and two tree creepers. It wasn't long before I'd addded green and great spotted woodpeckers to the morning's bird list. My ears still just about register the calls of goldcrest and it only took a few moments to spot them busily collecting invertebrates from the canopy.
Walking to the bottom of the wood I disturbed the buzzard which had been roosting in an old silver birch and heard the cronk of our local raven flying over. The yew tree in the valley bottom had attracted blackbirds and redwings to feast on the rapidly disappearing glut of berries. Clearly it hadn't taken long for the wood to recover from the onslaught of the dozen or so volunteers the previous day.
I'll try to remember to add to this blog as the year progresses and introduce you to some more secrets of this enchanting woodland and the history of its family. Within the month there will be stirrings under the leaf litter which will result in many locals coming for their annual visit. Which family member was "Shot - we think he was" and who was killed on the railway line at Llanvihangel?
Roger, Reserve Manager, Chance Wood