Veterans on the rocks

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 9 December 2010 20:57

Alice and I went to Eridge Rocks to carry out an inventory of the ancient trees there today. We were both surprised at just how many there were. The biggest tree, an oak, had a Girth at Breast Height (GBH) of 5.88 m, bigger than anything we have recorded at Ebernoe Common. In fact the mean GBH of the largest 18 trees was about the same as at Ebernoe, both around 4.50 m. Amazingly there were three trees of GBH > 5 m on the site, all bigger than the huge oak on the boundary between Eridge Rocks and the neighbouring Broadwater Warren RSPB reserve. No wonder I managed to find a deadwood beetle at Eridge this summer new to Sussex. I'm hoping that a further survey there next year will go ahead now. The trees have been in the shadow of the SSSI sand rock cliffs feature in more ways than one. Many of the  trees need work though, shaded by younger growth.
This amazing oak of GBH 4.34 m was actually growing out of the rocks and you could even crawl directly underneath it! So many niches for invertebrates to develop in. Nearby, this relatively young oak is showing the classic 'open-grown' domed shape with very low lateral bows that is rapidly lost when younger trees grow up and shade out the lower branches.
Whilst measuring one tree I spotted these overwintering eggs on an old cocoon of a Vapourer Moth. Closest I have come to seeing an invertebrate for days!
Finally, a bit of vascular plant interest. The rare Tunbridge Filmy-fern.

2 Response to "Veterans on the rocks"

Lucy Says:

The eggs and the fern specially grab my attention. What are the eggs of?

Lucy

Graeme Lyons Says:

They are Vapourer Moth eggs

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