March News

The first spring-like weather has brought a number of our resident butterflies out of their winter hibernation. Bright yellow Brimstones, and the familiar Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma butterflies, have all been seen. They are being increasingly joined by a few hardy Red Admirals – a species that used to arrive from Southern Europe as a summer migrant, but  can now be counted as a permanent resident thanks to the vagaries of climate change.

All these butterflies look for early sources of nectar to feed up after their long hibernation. Some of the earliest flowers – snowdrop and daffodil for example – are introduced to The Hills and Holes and are a poor nectar source. More favoured is Blackthorn which was out in flower by late February. This is a vital food source for many insects, especially bees and hoverflies.

Clumps of Dog Violets
Violets

This month (March) should see the first pasqueflowers appearing if the weather remains kind, but the peak of flowering is usually late April. They will be joined by carpets of cowslips and less obvious patches of dog violets.

A Guide to Common Violets 
(pdf file opens in separate window)

 

Visitors to The Hills and Holes over the Winter will have seen continuing work to clear overgrown scrub and bushes from the open grassland, to benefit the wild flowers.

This year there was also a thinning of the birch trees which were becoming increasingly tall and dominant in some areas, with significant shading and leaf-fall that was damaging parts of the flower-rich grassland. Some trees also had splits in the base and were removed to ensure public safety as the nearby hillocks are often popular picnic spots. However the trees are a familiar feature of the landscape and rather that clear too many, most were retained and dealt with by having lower branches removed to reduce their impact.

Panorama view in March

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February 2014

February

Snowdrop time

P1080601

The snowdrop adds a splash of variety in this rather dull month. It is not a genuine wildflower here but was introduced  either deliberately or from dumped garden waste. It can be seen in profusion opposite the entrance to Millstone Lane and in clumps along Wittering Rd.