A big thank you to all those who turned out last Saturday 30th May to look for small green flowers in the green grass! Despite the challenge and with the help of good weather the totals so far for this year are as follows:
Compartment 1 (SW) – 251 (161 for this compartment last year)
Compartment 2 (NW) – 292
Compartment 3 (NE) – still to be surveyed
Compartment 4 (SE) – 79
Compartment 6 (N) – 1
NB Compartment 5 is the designation for the road side verge
Total to date : 623 (Estimate circa 650+ once compartment 3 completed)
This compares to 184-2013 and 1,027 – 1998 the latest two comparable whole site surveys. We wait to see if the fixed plot surveys support these encouraging signs of an increased population after many years of low numbers. Fixed point Man Orchid count data from 1997 to 2014.
The May event is free for all to attend and is part of the ongoing monitoring programme on the reserve. Each year since 1977 there have been surveys of the flora and fauna on the reserve and this is an opportunity for you to contribute to this data set. On Saturday 30th May there will be a count of the number of Man Orchid flower spikes on the reserve. Those who attended last year’s rather wet survey managed to locate 161 spikes in compartment one (south west quadrant). If you would like to join in this years survey then you are welcome to just turn up at the main car park at 10:00am but if you can let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org) that you will be attending that will help with planning the survey area.
April’s event will be held on Sunday 19th April from 11:00-12:30 meeting at the main car park off Wittering Road. On the day Chris Gardiner from Natural England will be giving us an onsite “Introduction to the Butterfly Survey”. This will help those who want to contribute to the 2015 site survey programme and help those with an interest in butterflies to develop their knowledge of the site. The event will be free to members and at a small charge of £2:00 for non-members. There will be a limit on the number of spaces so please book your place by e-mailing email@example.com.
The traditional bank holiday weather has me thinking about this years fine display of butterflies and flowers on the Hills and Holes. At least my perception is the flowers were more prolific than usual and the butterflies earlier and more numerous. Perhaps the mild winter had made a contribution but was it that unusual? So I have “dug out” from the internet the weather records from Wittering (only a mile or so from the reserve as the crow flies) and discovered that since the accessible records began in July 1996 it had been one of the mildest winters (along with 2007).
Particularly unique and perhaps significant for the over wintering insects there was no single day when the average temperature recorded was below 0 degrees celsius.
Spring has also been one of the warmest, again notable for its absence of any really cold days.
It will be interesting to see if the results of the butterfly and other surveys support my ad hoc observations and if we really have seen the benefits of a mild winter and warm spring last through the summer. For the information of those who took part in a very wet Man Orchid count it could have been worse. The rain fall on the 24th May (10.92mm) was only the fourth heaviest of the year (perhaps made to feel worse by the19.05mm that fell on 22nd May but not as bad as the 23.88mm on 10th August. With the 12.95mm that came down on 20th July these are the only four days so far this year to have reached double figures local to the reserve. Now I have the data please let me know if you have any specific questions on the historic weather.