Bishop Wood FC


Site details

Recorders: Nick Hall

Bishop Wood just north of Selby has always been an important ancient woodland site. Named after Cardinal Wolsey the archbishop’s palace stood at nearby Cawood At just under 1000 acres it is easy to lose your whereabouts when walking. Owned by the Forestry Enterprise and operated commercially it is the largest wooded area in the Humberhead Levels. There are still extensive tracts of Oak, Poplar, Ash and Sycamore but commercial fir trees blocks dominate the northern half. The forest is being quite intensively managed to return to a original state with thinning around established oaks, ride widening, and periodic areas cleared for Birch regrowth to encourage the red list Argent and Sable moth.

The wood is a favourite place for our woodland species with high numbers of Comma, Peacock and Brimstones but also many other common species. There are a small number of Wych elms and White Letter Hairstreak is seen and Purple Hairstreak can be locally abundant. Brown Argus is found on its alternative host plant Dove’s Foot Cranesbill. There is a colony of Dingy Skipper along the railway which cuts the western edge where Birds Foot trefoil abounds. This railway service road on the east side of the track is a particularly good area to observe many species of butterfly and is a mass of primroses in March. The west side of the track is also a mass of Primrose, BFT, Agrimony and Violets but is rarely visited. The transect covers a network of the wider rides whose junctions on the northern half (logpile S6) where Birch regrowth is prolific is particularly good for seeing Argent and Sable moths. About a third of the transect includes denser overgrown rides lined by ancient sallow coppice and grey willow and their hybrids where Honeysuckle forms the lower canopy and the floor is liberally covered by Dogs mercury, Bluebell, Wood Anemone, brambles, and patches of Dog Violets. Highlight species include the majestic Silver Washed Fritillary that arrived in 2017 and is happily settled with form valezina seen for the first time in 2020.

Sections: S1 is mixed coniferous blocks and mature deciduous being thinned to encourage Oaks and where Purple hairstreak is seen in sunny pockets and Speckled Wood and GV White. There is a cluster of Elm where it meets the railway line road. S2 is along the railway side and abounds with herbs and is a special favourite with Brimstones Peacocks, and Silver Washed fritillaries.

S3 we make our way back into to shady rides back to the main road where we started. Crossing the road into S4 a well lite ride has more species with Comma a nd Ringlets. S5 starts at a road junction with sallow and birch regrowth and this open ride with good nectar is often the favourite place to see peacock, SWF and Comma. particularly at its end near the logpile where Argent and Sable is commonly spotted. S6 is a wide shady ride with and after a couple of clearings you take the Path back towards the south dep in the wood and very shady to Pringles Bridge which has good violet areas and is anothe rfavouruite of our woodland species. S8 return via Park nook road which is wide bracken filled ride often used by Brimstone, comma and Silver Washed fritillary


Bishop Wood saw a remarkable 42% increase in overall numbers of all species! The highlight was a good many White-letter Hairstreaks were seen for the first time. Silver washed Fritillary had a early start and a late finish although numbers per week were probably 20-30% down. Purple Hairstreak was seen in good numbers along with more Dingy Skipper along the railway side (S2) However things were much influenced by a large new area of nectar plants including Primrose, Dog Violet, Birds Foot Trefoil and Agrimony followed by Knapweed, Teasel, Fleabane, Marsh Thistle, Meadowsweet, Marsh Valerian and Angelica along the railway side (S2) which has grown after being cleared in late 2018 ( S2). This abounded with life throughout the season and saw huge numbers of Peacocks (400 peak) in the last 2 weeks of July along with the Whites and other species. The summer downpours ment the trees were washed clean of their honeydew, the major food source of some of our canopy dwelling species like the Hairstreaks revealed their presence for the first time at low level and occasionally, very unusually, taking nectar. In addition the foresters moved in with heavy plant and the wider chalk roads were scrapped and reinforced with fresh chalk, which meant most of the nectar plants on the ride sides were lost. This greatly reduced butterfly numbers of some species while others simply moved to the railway side. This is very much reflected in the sections counts

Transect reports 2020