North Cray Woods
Image credit: Friends of Foots Cray Meadows
This area, the remains of an ancient wood, mentioned in the Domesday Book, can be traced back to the 12th century and it is likely to have originally covered a vast area that includes what is now Foots Cray Meadows as well as the surrounding estates and farmland.
The 1769 Andrews, Drury and Herbert map clearly shows the woods, which formed part of the western boundary of the estate of what became Foots Cray Place.
Locals refer to part of the region nowadays as Bluebell Woods due to its dazzling show of the protected flowers, most especially in April usually around Easter time. This is enjoyed by those using the winding path that provides an exit to the Royal Park housing estate and onward to the local train station.
This is the best place within the Meadows to look for classic woodland species like nuthatch as it climbs along branches or down trunks searching for food. It often packs its nest hole with mud. Nuthatches have a very distinctive call.
The treecreeper on the other hand will usually be found creeping, mouse like up the trunk of a tree, reaching a certain height then flying down to another tree before working its way up again. Treecreepers have a very high-pitched call often not discernible to an aging ear.
Song thrush, blackbird, great spotted woodpecker and jay are other typical birds of the woods with the song of blackcap wonderful to hear in Spring/early summer.
Historical Ordnance Survey maps – Edition 3 (1900 to 1907) and Edition 4 (1905 to 1957) – show a large pond that supplied ducks and waterfowl for the house table. Most of this has now dried up, but some is still visible near the woodland edge on the edge.