The main car park at the Hills & Holes will be closed for essential maintenance from Mon 6 Aug-Fri 10 Aug inclusive. The closure is for safety reasons and to allow for essential maintenance to be carried out on the car park, including re buttressing of the cattle grid, addition of a soak away to avoid flooding and regrading of the pathway from the MCP to the reserve. The smaller car parks on Wittering Road and Walcott Road will remain open.
Contractors have also started taking down the field perimeter fence with the intention of fully replacing it.
When any maintenance work is taking place, please take extra care in the area and note any signs and verbal instructions from the contractors or Natural England staff.
Natural England apologies for any inconvenience caused and thanks you for your patience during this period. Any queries can addressed to reserve warden firstname.lastname@example.org
On the evening of Wednesday 27th June 9.30pm Natural England will be leading a glow worm walk on the reserve.
Meeting at the main car park
A night-time ramble to discover the hidden world of this mysterious insect with Reserve Manager Tim Starsmore-Sutton
As numbers are limited on night walks, please ring 07798 645935 for details and to book a place.
At the guided walk yesterday the presence of the sunshine and the first Pasque flowers confirmed that spring has finally arrived. The cowslips are slowly developing what looks like it could be an impressive display this year and the Early Purple Orchids are appearing in significant numbers. The call of a Willow Warbler, a Mistle Thrush filling the air with its song and both Blue and Great Tits spotted with nesting material all show that everything is heading in the right direction. In the afternoon the appearance of Brimstone, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies added to the encouraging signs and despite a slight step backwards with extensive cloud cover the warmer temperatures today and forecast for the rest of the week means we can expect rapid developments across the reserve.
With the sheep having done an excellent job over the winter months removing some of the longer and tougher grasses, therefore allowing the wild flowers to have less competition, it is now our turn. There is a Natural England led working party meeting on the reserve in the main car park 08:45- 9:00am on Monday 19th February. Please do join us for as little or as long as you can that morning to help clear some of the scrub so we can maintain the open limestone grassland and its rare wildflower population.
Plans to join with Langdyke Countryside Trust have moved ahead so please keep a look out for news of an exciting introductory event on 14th April.
This year’s AGM will be held at Barnack Village Hall on Wednesday 29th November from 7:30pm. As well as the usual business meeting and displays of information there will be an illustrated talk on the Langdyke Trust by Richard Astle. This is an important meeting for the future of the Friends of Barnack Hills and Holes so please do attend and help establish what we do in 2018.
I look forward to seeing you there.
With the sheep now present on the reserve it is the time of year when we can lend them a hand with their vital task of managing the sward by removing more established scrub.
In the coming month there are three opportunities for you to help keep the reserve in good condition for the rarer flora which the reserve supports and provides such a wonderful spring and summer show of colour and interest.
On Sunday 24th September 10:00 to 14:00 and over the same time period on Wednesday 27th September the summer warden will be facilitating working parties on the reserve to clear some of the smaller scrub starting to take over in many areas of the reserve. This will be a gentle and easy opportunity to cut back the many small hawthorn and turkey oak plants which have emerged over the past 12-24 months. Please feel free to join us for as long as you can on either or both days.
For those wanting to participate in more major scrub clearance then the Peterborough Conservation Volunteers will be on site on Sunday 10th September. Everyone is welcome to join them and lend a hand in clearing one of the more overgrown areas.
For more details or to let us know you will be coming then please e-mail: email@example.com.
Thanks to the sharp eyes of the seven people who attended the annual glow worm walk this year we not only found 13 female glow worms (plus three on the roadside on the way home) but also a male. The latter find proving that being able to glow in the dark does work to attract a mate!
If you were unable to tear yourselves away from the tennis (or the pub) last Friday evening then there are still a few more weeks when a walk on the reserve on a warm evening after dark should be rewarded with one or more sightings of a small green LED like lights.
In daylight warm sunny days should be rewarded with numerous Marbled Whites. Apparently the first Chalkhill Blues of the season and the second flight of Brown Argus butterflies have also been sighted. Gatekeeper butterflies were relatively numerous on the latest transect walk at the end of last week along with high numbers of Meadow Browns, Ringlets and a few Skippers. Whilst the orchid season is coming to an end there are many more flowers in bloom so a trip to the reserve at anytime in July always has something to discover.
Note also the signs that ponies are going to be used for the first time this year to graze and help manage the reserve. This activity is essential to help maintain and potentially improve the biodiversity. Their heavier trampling of the vegetation and greater stress resistance to the presence of people and particularly dogs (although please do ensure you keep them on leads in the area where the ponies are loose) should help ensure the autumn management aims are successfully achieved.
This year we will, weather permitting, be hosting the Glow Worm walk around the reserve on Friday 7th July. We are planning to meet at the main car park on Wittering Road at 9:15pm so we have a little time to acclimatise to the failing light before darkness descends. Please do wear sensible shoes as we will be walking across some rough terrain in the dark. A torch will also be useful at times to ensure safe navigation.
Please do let us know if you want to attend this event so we can plan for the numbers likely to be present and more importantly for you as the event is very weather dependent we can let you know if we decide to re-arrange probably to the following Friday.
I look forward to meeting many of you again for this annual event
A very big thank you to all those who came along yesterday morning and helped look for and count the Man Orchid’s present in the four monitoring plots. We found in total 66 flower spikes within the designated areas and approximately 20 just outside the various areas or during the walks between them. The number is about half the number seen last year and very similar to the counts made between 2007 and 2014. This may be accounted for by the particularly “lush vegetation” with the recent rain and warmth making it difficult to spot the flower spikes but we also have seen ups and downs in the population since the records began. We are well below the 1845 flower spikes recorded in 1985!
The weather was kind being dry and sunny without being too hot or humid. As well as the Fragrant Orchids coming into bloom and the odd Pasque flower hanging about the first Pyramidal Orchid was noted (I just managed to avoid sitting on it!)
A Brown Argus and a pair of Common Blue butterflies added to the sightings and what I hope was an enjoyable morning for all on this beautiful nature reserve.
The next event will be a guided Glow Worm walk in July please keep a look out on this website for details of time and date.