We joined in with one of their regular work parties and came home with some seeds for Dark Mullein. We're hoping to grow them at home then take some of the plants back to the reserve to plant (as well as put a few in our garden!)
It's flowers are also a great source of nectar for insects and the seeds are loved by finches.
|Striped Lychnis Moth|
|Striped Lychnis Moth caterpillar|
We took a walk around the edge of the reserve. It's about 10 acres and made up of two large south facing hay meadows that used to be arable land (and even part of the site was a rubbish tip). A lot of work has gone into putting it back to the chalk grassland that it once would have been. The meadows were reseeded with traditional wild flowers, animals graze the land over the winter and the volunteers work hard to improve the habitat for butterflies and moths. Part of that work involves creating scrapes, where the underlying chalk is exposed, creating ideal growing conditions for a variety of different food plants, including Horseshoe Vetch and Kidney Vetch, the food plant of caterpillars of Small Blue and Chalkhill Blue butterflies.
|A newly created scrape|
The site is a lovely, peaceful place, full of birds singing in the trees around the edges of the meadows. Can't wait to go back during the summer, when 27 species of butterflies and over 300 species of moths are regularly found there.
|A Great Tit in the lichen|
|Notice boards are placed around the site to help with identification|
They had a bonfire going so the kids enjoyed toasting marshmallows! The choccie biscuits during the coffee break also went down very well.
Somebody found a birds nest that was made out of horse hair. They were going to take it home and see if anything hatched out of it (apparently carpet moths live in birds nests in the wild). Now that's dedication for you!!
We even made it onto their facebook page ...
Bug Mad Girl said how much fun she'd had and how glad she was that she'd gone with me. May be down to the marshmallows and chocolate biscuits of course!