High Weald Species
Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) are a large bulky wading bird with short legs, and a very long straight tapering bill. It is largely nocturnal, spending most of the day in dense cover and very difficult to see, although if you are lucky enough to disturb one you will see its zigzagging flight through the trees before it drops down into cover again. Most of the birds in the UK are residents; although in the autumn birds move to the UK from Finland and Russia to winter here. The breeding population has been falling in recent years, perhaps because of less habitat, as conifer plantations become too mature for woodcocks to find open enough breeding areas.
Butcher's Broom, Ruscus aculeatus was once called ‘knee holly' because of its low growing habit at the base of trees and its bright red berries. It is plant of ancient woodlands, and indeed the clumps beneath trees may be older than the tree itself. The name Butcher's Broom came about because bundles of the plant's stalks were once used to scour butcher's blocks.
Mistle thrushes (Turdus viscivorus) are large thrushes which live in open country, often seen singing on mild winter days from the tops of very tall trees; listen out for its call - whilst it is in flight, it sounds like a football rattle! This loud and far reaching call is often heard during stormy weather, hence its alternative name of Stormcock.