The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world’s biggest survey of butterflies. Over 60,000 people took part in 2017, submitting 62,500 counts of butterflies and day-flying moths from across the UK
It continues until the end of August and what better place to conduct your own 15 minute survey than on Barnack Hills and Holes.
Full details and survey submission form on https://www.bigbutterflycount.org/about
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
BBC Gardeners World this week (broadcast on 22nd June) features an item recorded by Adam Frost on the Hills and Holes which shows what a special place we have on our doorstep. It broadens the value of the reserve as not just for those interested in wildlife, particularly wild flowers, but as a source of inspiration in garden design. It is also well documented that open spaces and contact with nature is good for our mental health. Therefore with ever increasing visitor pressure on the reserve it is more and more important that we look after the site this summer if we are to retain and even enhance its beauty (Orchids are just starting to establish in the vicinity of the area cleared of trees and scrub in the early 2000s). You can help by keeping to the established footpaths, not leaving behind any litter and taking care not to damage any flowers or plants that appear adjacent to the footpaths. There has been significant improvement, since waste bins were introduced, with the problem of dog fouling but it has not been eliminated so please remember if you do bring along a dog to pick up and deposit in the bins provided all dog waste. If you want to participate actively in preserving the reserve for future enjoyment then donations following the instructions on the signs at the entrances or consider joining in with the organised working parties to keep the scrub at bay. Your assistance in ensuring this reserve maintains its status as an outstanding National Nature Reserve (with 8 red list species) and does not become just a “great place to walk the dogs”, is very much appreciated.
Whilst the Pasque Flowers and Cowslips are coming to an end and the Early Purple Orchid display is peaking, it is still not too late to enjoy them and you will not be the only ones. As illustrated in the photo kindly provided by Anna R. the insects are now busy on the reserve this also includes Green Hairstreak butterflies.
The first Man Orchid spike has been reported so the succession of plants and flowers to see continues and this activity will continue to build over the coming months.The number of Mistle thrushes seen and heard on the reserve this season seem particularly high and the summer warblers are in good voice and backed by Skylarks singing above the fields to the west of the reserve boundary.
Hopefully we will see the return of the sunshine in the next few days to add to the pleasure of a walk round this very special place.
As always we ask that you take care on the reserve and if you bring a four legged friend you keep it under control and clear up after them using the bags and bins provided.
Natural England have been in touch with the police regarding the number of break ins to cars in the main car park so please do take care not to leave any valuables on display when leaving your car.
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.
At last a few days without snow and some colour has appeared on the limestone grassland. The first patch of violets have quickly come in to flower. Also the early orchids have started to bravely put out some leaves, I hope they do not regret it with the forecast showing potential of some snow next weekend! The cowslips are even trying to catch up, this time last year they were in full bloom across the reserve now it is still hunt the emerging plants.
The work of the N.E. team and volunteers has certainly cleared out the old windmill car park scrub area and opened up the views from the centre of the reserve into compartment 4 (south east quarter).
One interesting side effect is this weeping Silver Birch stump. Last week an icicle was present down the side and this weekend it is just streaming sap.
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.