Sunday 16 January 2011

Bridgend Woods

Bridgend Woods contain probably the biggest stands of mixed woodland on Islay.  I understand that they were planted in the nineteenth century to provide shelter for Islay House and create the woodland rides for the gentry's carriages.  There were also sporting considerations of course, with Rhododendrons being planted for pheasant cover and the river banks managed for salmon fishermen.  There are now good numbers of mature trees - this is a beech.

The woods stretch all the way to Port Askaig, basically following the course of the River Sorn.  They border some of Islay's best agricultural land

The woods can be very quiet at this time of year.  We saw a couple of Ravens and a Buizzard when we first set off and had a glimpse of a Sparrowhawk later on, but there were very few small birds around.  You usually encounter a mixed tit flock at some point during a walk - but not today.  We saw a Roe deer as the light faded away.  Nice branch of lichen.

The trees represent a valuable resource for the estate - and they are managed for timber.

The snowdrops are almost with us.  I believe that Bridgend Woods have one of the largest displays of snowdrops anywhere in the UK.  Another week and they will be spectacular.

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