Wolves Wood is a woodland near Hadleigh in Suffolk and is one of seven ancient woodland areas which used to cover East Anglia. A wide range of birds can be seen all year-round, including nightingales nesting in the hedgerows and great spotted woodpeckers foraging high in the trees.
The geography of the land at Wolves Wood tells us why it was spared from development into farmland – it sits on a plateau, and the boulder clay ensures the soil does not drain very well, so it would not have been an attractive proposition for farmers of old. Historically, it would have been coppiced for firewood and building materials.
When the RSPB bought the land in the 1970’s this coppicing regime was reinstated, meaning there are always areas of woodland of different heights and stages of development, which has great benefits for wildlife. Every year a system of ‘rides’ are mown, which ensures that there are areas of grass and wildflowers for the benefit of butterflies and other insects.
The RSPB manages the woodland using the traditional method of coppicing, cutting between 1 and 2 hectares every year, on a 15 year rotation. In the first year or so after this, the wildflower seeds dormant in the soil spring to life, and the open sunny area comes to life with sun-loving insects.
The trees grow back from the coppice ‘stools’, giving thick, impenetrable cover which is fantastic for many nesting birds, including nightingales, dunnocks, and blackcaps, garden and several other warblers. Strangely, woodland managed in this way is much more diverse and full of life than woodland just left to grow indefinitely, although we do also have areas of non-intervention woodland within the woods.
Over the last decade, the RSPB has been reversing some of the ancient systems of drainage within the wood, as it is understood that by keeping the wood wetter for longer after winter, we will be protecting the plant and animal life from the drying effects of climate change in years to come.
Wolves Wood is one of seven ancient woodland areas within Suffolk. This reserve is one of the few remnants of the ancient woodland which used to cover East Anglia. Records show that there has been woodland here since at least the 1600s.
Spring – In spring, nightingales, chiffchaffs, blackcaps, garden warblers, woodpeckers, treecreepers, tits (including marsh tits) and other common woodland species.
Summer – Birds quieten down in summer. Look up around the canopy of oak trees for purple hairstreak butterflies on warm June/July evenings. Twelve species of dragonfly and damselfly occur in the woods and can be seen.
Autumn – Autumn sees spectacular leaf change as greens turn to golds, browns, reds and yellows. The first woodcocks arrive in mid-October to spend the winter months in the wood and may be accidentally flushed from beside the visitor trail by visitors.
Winter – The wood is very quiet in winter. Marsh tits are present all year round and will join the roving flocks of the more common tit species, along with goldcrests and treecreepers. Small flocks of redwings and fieldfares often use the wood, along with siskins and lesser redpolls – all winter visitors.
Sorry, dogs are not permitted on the reserve, except assistance dogs, due to the sensitive wildlife and habitats here.
Free entrance to RSPB members Yes
Adults Free, but donations are very welcome.
Children Free, but donations are very welcome.
Reserve: open at all times.
Car park: open daily 9am-6pm (or dusk if earlier).
- Regional Tourist Board Member