Westwood comprises a rich blend of natural habitats. Ancient woodlands including hazel coppice and oak pasture; streams and ponds; marshes and grassland all provide haven for a diversity of plants and animals.
Rare native plants still thrive in Westwood. Wood Anemones, Primroses, Violets and Wild Strawberry have all been recorded through the woodland, and each spring you can enjoy stunning carpets of Bluebells. The grasslands are home to Cowslips, Yellow Bartsia and Toothed Medick, and a diversity of lower plants such as the rare Alder-Silk moss are also present across the Reserve.
The grasslands of the Grange Fields support many species of bird. Barn Owls hunt through the twilight hours and Skylarks, Linnets and Meadow Pipits have all been seen breeding in the grasses. In the woodland you may see a Nightingale, Songthrush, Bullfinch or Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, and both Dartford and Grasshopper Warblers have also been spotted across the Reserve.
The rare Hazel Dormouse is resident in Westwood’s coppice woodland. It is thought to be the only surviving Dormouse colony in Southampton, and even this small population is fragile due to the small amount of woodland available and its isolation from larger wooded areas.
Several rare beetles live in Westwood’s Bluebell Woods, all of which appear in the ‘Red Book’ of Britain’s most threatened invertebrate species. Butterflies flourish across the site; Marbled Whites and Clouded Yellows are prominent and White Admiral, Brown Argus and Silver-Washed Fritillary can all be spotted.
Management at Westwood aims to conserve habitats and enhance wildlife. Woodland areas are coppiced to benefit wildflowers and resident Dormice; shrub clearance maintains the open nature of the pasture woodland; invasive plant species are removed to preserve our native plants; and grazing and hay cutting improves the diversity of the grassland for flowers and invertebrates.