30 September 2019
Each year, the 1st October marks World Habitat Day, a day to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and the basic right to adequate shelter for all. But what about the animals that live in our woodland habitats?
Our woodland ecosystems have an incredible capacity to shelter and support thousands of different species; oak trees alone support over 200 different species of insects.
We take a closer at three species that are dependent on woodlands as their home and source of food - and are the most common wildlife spotted in Greater Manchester's woodlands.
The wren is an adaptable bird that can found throughout a range of habitats, from light-dappled woodlands to suburban gardens. With over 8.6 million breeding pairs, the wren is the most common breeding bird in the United Kingdom.
The wren’s species name, Troglodytes, means ‘cave dweller’ and gives us a hint of their lifestyle. Wrens can often be seen moving between crevices as they nest or hunt for arthropods such as spiders.
Small and Mighty
The wren is also one of Britain’s smallest birds, weighing the same as a two-pence coin. However it’s famed for its incredible volume and the complexity and length of its songs.
The speckled wood’s range reaches throughout almost all of England and they can be easily found in woodlands and areas with sufficient scrub to provide shade.
Adult speckled wood butterflies can be seen throughout the year from April to October.
As a caterpillar, the speckled wood prefers to eat the leaves of grasses such as False Broom and Yorkshire Fog. Once becoming a butterfly, it primarily feeds on the sugary honeydew that is produced by aphids as it feeds on leaves up in the forest canopy.
Connecting the Dots
The colour of the speckled wood’s dots on its wings varies depending on their geographical location. In the south of England the butterfly is dark brown with orange dots, where as in the north of England it is dark brown with white dots. The exact sub-species of speckled wood can be identified using their unique markings.
Best known for their cunning and resourcefulness, the red fox is one of Britain’s most iconic native carnivores and has been a crafty character in countless stories and legends.
While today it may not be uncommon to see a fox skulking across your own back garden during the twilight hours, foxes in a non-urban setting can be far more elusive. There is an estimated 200,000 foxes living throughout the countryside of the UK.
Foxes will often make their homes beneath tree trunks in burrows called ‘dens’ but they can also live above-ground in sheltered areas such as inside a hollow tree.
A fox may have several dens, often a larger main den will be used for the harsher winter months and raising their cubs while a number of smaller dens are used for storing food and for emergencies.
Foxes have an incredibly diverse diet and will eat anything from berries to voles to earthworms.
Foxes have a number of different calls, each with different uses. ‘Wow-wow barks’ are used for friendly communication over long distances and the sound can sometimes be confused for a dog.