Small colonies of the Duke of Burgundy can still be seen within the copses of Primrose strewn glades in the wood.
Harewood Forest is the second largest Forest in Hampshire second only to the New Forest. It covers an area of 8-10 kilometres square. Largely on Clay soil, which makes it particularly wet underfoot especially in the winter after heavy rainfall. It was the hunting ground for Saxon Kings between 800-and 1066 A.D. King Alfred used it as a hunting ground as it wasn’t far from his palace at Winchester. Being ancient woodland it is dominated by large Oak stands also having Silver-Birch, Hazel thickets, and Hawthorn, Wild Apple, and Blackthorn stands. In the North-west of the wood the Beech tree is common along with ancient Yews.
There is still the art of Hurdling, the ancient practice of making fencing with Hazel conducted within the wood, and Charcoal is still produced, and Clay pits used to be scattered around the wood for making bricks. During World War 1 there was a large Ammunition factory on site, and during World War 2 Douglas Fir trees were planted.
Wildlife within the wood
There is a lot of flora on the ground this includes Bluebells, Violets, Primrose, Wild Clematis, Snowdrops, Dogs Mercury, Wild Daffodil, Twayblade and other Orchids. In the trees there is a lot of birdsong this includes, Crossbills in the Douglas fir trees, Spotted Flycatcher, Warblers, Redwings and Fieldfares. Also,Tawny Owl and Barn Owl frequent the meadows and the woodland edges, along with Sparrowhawk, and Buzzards, and the Red Kite, patrol the skies. Woodpeckers, Great Spotted and the lesser Spotted Woodpecker, can be found in the woodland. In the Badger Valley Wild Cherry trees open out the woodland into copses where Primulas grow and here can be found the Duke of Burgundy butterfly and to a lesser degree the Pearl-Bordered Fritillary has been noted here in the past.
Deer have also been noted browsing in the woodland glades and meadows, Roe Deer, Red deer, and Muntjac Deer. Most of the Woodland especially in the North East is strictly private. Blackthorn is common along the woodland edges, and recently the Brown Hairstreak butterfly has been seen along with eggs being found, so this butterfly is probably very under-recorded in the area. Other rare flora and fauna recorded are Dormice have been seen in the Hazel thickets within the wood.
Sporadically the Pearl-bordered Fritillary is seen at this site, mainly reported from several of the private inclosures, which makes confirmation on this rare species difficult.
The art of Charcoal making is still practised within the wood.
Hurdling the dying art of fence making can still be observed in the wood
The Test Valley has many Red Kite sightings over the past few years and many are seen within the area of Harwood Forest.
The Primrose is the foodplant of the Duke of Burgundy and this flower quite common in the copses and open glades in the forest.
Blackthorn is common in the hedgerows and banks and ditches in most parts of the wood. Small new -growth of 2-3 years are selected by female Brown Hairstreaks to lay their eggs.
The Buzzard is a very common predator and can be seen throughout the year patrolling the skies on the thermals.
Twayblade is an Orchid and can be found on the banks of the old railway line to the east of the wood along with other Orchids.
Dog-Violet is a common plant within the wood growing on ancient banks and is the foodplant for Fritillaries
A female Brown Hairstreak laying eggs on Blackthorn, this species is very under-recorded in Hampshire.
Silver Birch trees in Harewood Forest.