New Forest - Wootton Coppice Inclosure
Site feature providing more detailed description, photos and other information for the butterfly observer
Photo 1 - Heading West Along Main Track In Wootton Coppice Inclosure
Presently one of the best locations in the New Forest for butterflies
Comprises mixed woodland with flower rich rides and meadows
Silver-washed Fritillary and White Admirals can be seen along the rides
One of few locations in the New Forest for Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Dark Green Fritillary and Green Hairstreak also recorded
The Wootton Coppice Inclosure is one of a group of inclosures located in the south west of the New Forest. This general area of the New Forest, around the basin of the Avon Water, is recognised at European level for its rare wetland habitats which include valley mire and bog woodland. As a consequence, the area is rich in uncommon species, particularly insects and flora, characteristic of damp habitats.
Fortunately Wootton Coppice Inclosure itself is reasonably user friendly, despite a few boggy areas, and has been selected for this site feature because of the quality of its habitat and the variety of its butterflies. The inclosure consists largely of mature mixed woodland with open rides and areas of damp meadow along the northern edge, close to course of the Avon Water. Both the rides and meadows are well stocked with nectar sources which attract the butterflies.
In addition to a good population of Silver-washed Fritillaries, including a significant number of the unusual Valezina form, there are also White Admirals and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries to be seen - one of very few locations for the latter species within the New Forest. Pearl-bordered Fritillaries are recorded in some years are there are recent records of Green Hairstreak and Dark Green Fritillary. The inclosure also has the commoner butterfly species associated with woodland, including Speckled Wood, Brimstone, Peacock and Comma.
Most of the butterfly interest can be seen along, or close to, the main gravel track running east to west through the inclosure and entered by a gate at Wootton Bridge. This gravel track provides a convenient thoroughfare through the inclosure, bearing in mind some of the minor tracks can be muddy well into summer. Care is also needed when exploring the meadows which are usually damp and can be wet in places, so stout, waterproof, footwear is recommended and a generous application of biting insect repellant (mainly because of ticks).
Approximately 300m along the track from Wootton Bridge, you cross a small stream and on the right hand side of the track there is the first of the meadow areas where Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary can be found (Photo 2 below). June, with the exception perhaps of the first week, through until early July is typically the best time, bearing in mind they emerge later here than at drier sites such as Bentley Wood. They can also be occasionally encountered along the main track and in other meadows further on such as the one located here.
Photo 2 - First Meadow And One Of The Locations For Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
From late June, Silver-washed Fritillaries will be encountered along the gravel track and other open rides, often stopping to feed on the numerous brambles. A few White Admirals should also be seen during a walk in late June through to late July. A particularly good area for both species is just beyond the first meadow area, where the main track bears right with a lesser track diverging to the left, as shown in photo 1 at the top of the page.
Wootton Coppice Inclosure is amenable both to short visits, with all key species present close to the Wootton Bridge entrance, and also for longer explorations of this interesting area of the New Forest. Following the main track west, Brownhill Inclosure is reached after ~1 mile. There is also access into the Wilverley Inclosure to the north and the Holmsley Inclosure to the west across the A35, with its characteristic bog woodland and riverine habitats.
The contribution made by Paul Brock to this site feature is gratefully acknowledged,