Home > ATF Field Meeting Reports > Jon Ryan attends the first meeting of ATF East Anglia in Captain’s Wood

27th October 2015

Jon Ryan attends the first meeting of ATF East Anglia in Captain’s Wood

By Reg Harris

Rodney West of Stanny Field Centre, with a veteran silver birch

On an autumnal day in October the inaugural meeting of the East Anglian branch of the ATF took place at Captain’s Wood, near Sudbourne in Suffolk. The event was incredibly popular, with 54 people giving up their Saturday to spend time looking at and learning about old trees.

Captain’s Wood has a recorded treed history dating back over 1000 years and is a remnant of a medieval wood pasture that once covered many hundreds of acres. It has stunning ancient oak pollards, set amongst birch and lapsed hazel coppice, situated between the famous Staverton Thicks and the Suffolk coast.The event was kindly hosted by Rod West (pictured above) at the Stanny House Field Centre, who provided the generous use of Low barn, a converted Suffolk punch stable block which was a welcome and comfortable base within walking distance of the wood.  Our thanks also go to Andrew Excell the reserve manager from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust for guiding us around the wood and providing an insight into its history.

Many thanks go to ATF stalwarts Ted Green and David Lonsdale (both pictured below) and Jill Butler for coming to speak and to Gary Battell (Suffolk CC) all of whom shared their thoughts and experience freely.

By Reg Harris

Ted Green and David Lonsdale in Captain’s Wood

As with similar ATF events, the informal walk stopped at trees of note (almost every tree!) which allowed the speakers to address the group and invite comment, but also discussions within smaller groups and with individuals too, as we ambled through the wood.

As someone recently returning to live in Suffolk, the East Anglian branch of the ATF is a great forum for meeting like-minded people, visiting some beautiful and interesting places and helping to raise awareness of ancient trees and treed landscapes.

One of the best aspects of the ATF meetings is how approachable everybody is. The group’s passion for trees is obvious and the discussions lively and informative.

I always leave having learnt a gem or two, new facts and knowledge gleaned from a group with a combined experience older than the ancient trees we visited.

A big thanks to Reg Harris of Urban Forestry (Bury St Edmunds) Ltd for instigating the East Anglian branch of the ATF and for organising the event.

Our next event will be held at Ickworth Park, near Bury St Edmunds in the spring (April), and also a joint event with Suffolk Traditional Orchard Group at Rummer’s Lane near Wisbech in May, to re-visit a traditional orchard, with a great variety of veteran fruit trees.

For future East Anglian ATF events check the events pages of the website and the ATF Facebook page, or email Reg directly Reg@urbanforestry.info.

Posted by: ATF East Anglia

8 Comments | Leave a Comment

  • Patrick Balls says:
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    please check forest heath planning referenced 152408 cr3 its very late in the day ,the Bury Free press have just released a story on line about a community centre being proposed on Aspal Close Beck Row, an area of high importance ecologically, please see if you can make any feelings known to the planning authorities ,or contact Matt Hancock our local M.P m.p.

    • Hannah Solloway says:
      Posted January 04, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      Thank you very much for letting us know about this proposal. We will pass the information on to the local ATF group.

  • Reg Harris says:
    Posted January 07, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Hello Patrick
    I have checked the planning status for the proposed new community centre, which I see has recently been withdrawn. I will be objecting to any new proposals on behalf of the ATF, when they arise next. I have also contacted the senior ecologist for SCC to raise our concerns too.
    Thank you for flagging it up.

  • Roger Fouracre says:
    Posted January 27, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Another bit to add to this is a future development order for the Lakenheath area for a substantial housing project.

  • Neil Mahler says:
    Posted February 04, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    I have only visited Aspal Close twice. I thought it was perhaps a little ‘clinical’ with very little deadwood lying on the floor, which is extremely good for Oak Polypore fungi. Has previous management been too tidy, or being so close to housing, have the locals been taking this wood for various purposes I wonder ?
    There is also a recreation/football pitch in the top left corner – traditionally these are the sort of places where villagers would have a large bonfire on November 5th and a firework display … if so, you can guess where the wood comes from.
    In July this year (2016) I shall be returning here with Dr Martyn Ainsworth from Kew and also the new site manager from the council at Bury St Edmunds to survey the fungi present in the hope the Oak Polypore fungus will be present or other more rare fungi.
    I would imagine important trees were felled to enable the recreation area to be made so talk of a community centre now being planned is very worrying. Places like these are often used as safe areas to hold children’s disco’s, but mischievous and excited children tend not to stay indoors all the time and they are unlikely to have an appreciation of the unique habitat in which they find themselves in.

    • Neil Mahler says:
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      As a follow up, I am pleased to say we were successful in finding the Oak Polypore fungus which significantly increases this woodlands ecological importance … let’s just hope the locals fully appreciate what they have on their doorstep.

      • Reg Harris says:
        Posted January 30, 2017 at 1:44 pm

        Hello Neil,
        That’s fantastic news! Well done Neil. Congratulations on finding it and sharing it with us all. I wonder if it was on a dead section of one of the veteran oaks? I saw an old fruiting body on one last year, but it was so decayed, I couldn’t identify it properly?

        • Neil Mahler says:
          Posted January 30, 2017 at 10:24 pm

          Hello Reg,
          It was ‘desperation’ that found it … we (David Humphries, Anne Crotty, a ‘tree officer from the council’, Martyn Ainsworth and myself) started with a thorough search of the enclosed Aspall Close Nature Reserve and were disappointed not to have found any trace of Oak Polly at all despite ‘ideal’ conditions being in place.
          Both David and myself were aware of remnants of the original wood still remaining where houses have now been built and we just had time to check out 2 areas before Martyn had to catch his train back to Kew. The first location drew a blank, so finally we headed off for our last hope which was a cluster of trees at Parkside off Aspall Lane. Martyn and myself headed for the nearest ancient Oak and we both saw a suspicious dirty yellow lump growing at neck height on the exposed inside of a very mature tree … Bingo !!
          Not the best example, but yer Oak Polly all the same. Photos were taken and the all important tag number of the tree written down and then David Humphries very kindly rushed Martyn off to the station to catch his train.
          There is every possibility that the Oak Polly occurs on other trees within Aspal Close Reserve – it is just a case of standing in the right spot at the right time and with your head at the right angle (and knowing what an Oak Polypore really looks like !)


Leave a comment: