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.
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.
Well a gloriously warm and sunny week at the end of May has certainly brought along the flora and the ground is starting to show lots of different species in flower including the first signs of Fragrant Orchids joining the Man Orchids.
The weather has also finally brought out the Green Hairstreak butterflies in significant numbers particularly on the Apple and Spindle trees along the path running parallel with the western boundary of the reserve in compartment 1 (South West quarter). Common Heath moths have also become numerous in the open grassland and a few Red Admirals have brought their bright colours. Adding to these the general increase in moths, bees and beetles, with specifically a Longhorn moth – Nemophora degeerella and a Rosels-bush cricket nymphe (Thanks to Ian, visiting from Norfolk, for identifying these and providing the Green hairstreak photo) the reserve really has come alive.
Unfortunately a downturn in the weather over the weekend and a traditionally wet Bank Holiday Monday has limited the enjoyment and opportunities to spot new arrivals. Hopefully if the weather turns dry as promised and the temperature stays up for next Saturday, the Man Orchid count should provide a great opportunity to add to this years sightings so please join us if you can.
As reported last week the first flower spike of Man Orchid has been spotted so we are now planning this year’s survey. With the support we have received for this event historically we are being ambitious this year and plan to survey the whole reserve (well the parts likely to support Man Orchids).
Your assistance with this task would be greatly appreciated but please note some of the survey will require walking up and down some significant slopes. We will try and match transects with people’s capabilities / wishes and of course we do allow you to deviate round very steep slopes and hawthorn bushes!
If you would like to participate in this event then we will be meeting at 10:00am in the main car park off Wittering Road. Weather and enthusiasm permitting we will cover at least compartments one and two (West end of the reserve) but you are welcome to join us when you can and for as long as you want. The area we can cover will be dependent upon how many volunteers we get so feel free to bring family and friends along. There is no charge for this event as it helps with the science.
There will hopefully be some experts present to answer any questions you have and for you to increase your general knowledge of the reserve and its resident species.
I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible on the day. If you can let me know you will be attending by e-mailing email@example.com that will help with the planning.
With the Pasque flowers about at their peak and Cowslips still present in very healthy numbers right across the reserve, we are starting to plan the plant monitoring for 2017. The early purple orchids which have appeared in the last few weeks will soon be joined by Pyramidal Orchids, Fragrant Orchids, Bee Orchids, Frog Orchids, Twayblade, Common spotted Orchid, Spring Sedge and Knapweed Broomrape all of which have been recorded and monitored during the past 40 years. To maintain this database help is required, so please if you are interested in participating in any of these surveys do let us have your contact details. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we will let you know how you can help.
With the warmer weather is is not just butterflies to spot on the reserve. The warmer days provide plenty of opportunities to find bees on the reserve in April.
Below is a table of the bees sited on the reserve in 2016 thanks to the efforts and reporting by Ryan Clark
|Tawny Mining Bee
||Andrena (Andrena) fulva
|Gwynne’s Mining Bee
||Andrena (Euandrena) bicolor
|Grey Mining Bee
||Andrena (Melandrena) cineraria
|Buffish Mining Bee
||Andrena (Melandrena) nigroaenea
|Early Mining Bee
||Andrena (Trachandrena) haemorrhoa
|Hairy Footed Flower Bee
||Anthophora (Anthophora) plumipes
|Red-tailed (Hill) Cuckoo Bee
|Southern (Vestal) Cuckoo Bee
|Common Carder Bee
|White tailed Bumblebee
||Colletes (Colletes) hederae
|White-footed Furrow Bee
||Lasioglossum (Dialictus) leucopus
|Two-coloured Mason Bee
||Osmia (Neosmia) bicolor
The last entry is particularly interesting to look out for as it makes its nest in old snail shells. It then uses very small “sticks” and grass to seal the entrance which it collects and carries to the nest. This can give the appearance of bees “riding broomsticks”.
For more information on these and other bees visit www.bwars.com
Over the past few years since its formation the Friends have assisted with the annual Man Orchid count in both good and foul weather! Last year we took on the challenge of the weekly Butterfly transects and we would like to continue to expand the role we play in providing and maintaining this historical data set.
With continued cuts to Natural England’s budget their capacity to continue with the detailed surveys of Orchid species that have taken place annually sine the mid-1970’s is under significant threat.
The routine monitoring of butterflies on the site is dependent upon regular weekly (weather permitting) visits of about 1 hour to walk a set route around the reserve.
It would be wonderful to update some of the quadrat survey work on flora undertaken in the past and for those with an interest in invertebrates the last major survey was in 1990 so feel free to get your “bug” books out and help see what has changed!
Please do get in touch with us if you would like to contribute to this and to find out more come and talk to us at the AGM on 16th January.
A very big thank you to all those who came along not just from the “Friends” but also other local wildlife and botany groups. Your help to make this task manageable was very much appreciated and as always Chris’s guidance and instructions kept us roughly on the right track!
The sixteen volunteers surveyed the four historic survey areas this year and yielded results as follows:
Plot A – compartment 2 – (adjacent to main car park – 9 (8)
Plot B – compartment 1- “centre” of reserve – 24 (42)
Plot C – compartment 1 – middle area – 94 (143)
Plot D – compartment 3 – adjacent to gate to village – 9 (35)
(figures in brackets last years totals)
With a total of 136 this is somewhat down on last years 228 and very much short of the numbers seen on the reserve in the mid 80’s. Encouragingly it is still above recent years very low figures and my impression at least was the “quality and size” of the spikes was impressive.
The survey was made even more worthwhile for me by the wealth of knowledge available from participants to identify other plants (thank you for your patience) and the first sighting this year of a Bee Orchid in all its glory.
Watch this space for details of the Glow Worm walk provisionally scheduled for Saturday 2nd July – 9pm. Spaces for this popular event are limited so booking via email@example.com is required.
The annual general survey of the site for Man Orchid’s has been scheduled for 10:00am on Saturday 4th June 2016. If you would like to assist with this survey (simply walking a direct line across the reserve and counting the Man Orchid flowering spikes you see) please do join us at 10:00am in the main car park of Wittering Road.
Click on image above to display
As the combined survey data above shows there appeared to be some recovery in Man Orchid numbers in 2015 so it will be interesting to see if 2016 continues to show this trend.
The Butterfly season has started honestly! A cold April has meant there have only been three or four days showing suitable temperatures and weather conditions to monitor the butterflies on the reserve. The three visits undertaken have yielded few butterflies but the brave over wintering Peacocks have appeared and Brimstones can be seen particularly along the wooded section of the public footpath on the south side of the reserve.
The annual monitoring follows a defined walk around the reserve. The route has remained the same for 35 years even if the density of shrubs, trees and grazing of the reserve have brought about significant changes. The results of the annual monitoring, with records going back to 1981, can be found on the UKBMS website
As the weather warms up and the flowers progress so will the butterflies. Visit the reserve to see what you can spot or keep track of sightings on this or the UKBMS websites. Please feel free to submit your sightings of butterflies or other fauna or flora via the SIGHTINGS page of this website.