Stewkley Wildlife Reserve
Wildlife Reserve News for August 2011
17th August, Wednesday, with a few days of fine weather, the meadows were cut for hay, it will be turned to help it dry, and then baled in a day or so. In previous years it has gone for animal feed during the winter.
On quietly approaching the pond, several birds were seen in the pond and close to it, Goldfinches, Blue Tits, and other similar sized birds that I dont recognise. On a Blackthorn a young Blackbird was eating Sloe, the berries of the Blackthorn.
13th August, Saturday, during the last week or so, Kestrels have been seen around the reserve, at times hovering over the grass in search of small mamals like voles to swoop down on and catch. Up to 3 birds have been seen at the same time, indicating they may be from the same family.
Autumn is getting closer, as the Blackberries (above left) are beginning to form, the Rose Haws(below left) are ripening, and the Hawthorn has many berries and the Sloe are ripening (above right), if that is the right description of the Sloe which never tastes sweet.
The Knapweed has mostly finished flowering and now sport seed heads (above right), which are a favourite food of the Goldfinches which can be observed in small flocks helping themselves to the seeds. The seeds are also being gathered, to re-seed areas of the reserve. The Devil's bit Scaboius are in flower in several places, or about to flower (below).
In the meadows the various Hawkbits (below) provide a dash of colour amongst all the brown of the Knapweed and grasses.
7th August, Sunday, after a dry warm few days, the reserve abounds with Grasshoppers, quite a few Bees, not many butterflies, the Blackberries are in flower, and the Sloe are developing on the Blackthorn. I think I saw about 6 butterflies, including a Gatekeeper, a Meadow Brown, and unusually for the reserve a Tortoiseshell.
There are a lot of Hawkbit in flower at present, they look rather like dandelion, but are different on closer examination. Indeed closer examination is needed to tell which species they are, as it is not easy, it is thought at present there are Autumn Hawkbit, and Common Cat's-ear, and Rough Hawkbit was in flower earlier.
There is a good example of Spiny Restharrow, near the central path in the field next to the Rec. This field and the Jackdaw now have Devil's Bit Scabious in flower. Around the pond the Purple Loostrife, Hemp Agrimony, Water Mint,
and Gipsy Wort are in flower.
There are several types of bees to be seen around the flower heads, and even more Hoverflies (photos below), these may look like wasps or flies, but are nectar feeding insects, who are to be encouraged in gardens as their young eat various pests.
4th August, Thursday, we have had a lot of rain over the last few days, and its raining steadily this morning. Hay has been cut in many fields around the village, and some farmers have started on the corn harvest. In the reserve it is expected to cut the hay, in mid August.
1st August, Monday, it has still been dry, and the grasses in the reserve reflect that, there are very few butterflies around, I saw a Speckled Wood resting on the entrance gate, and a Small Copper feeding on a Hemp Agrimony flower around the pond.
I was shown a couple of plants new to me, Burnet Saxifrage of which there are a couple in Old Churchfurlong, and left below a Wild Carrot. Very similar looking plants belonging to the Parsley family. I must admit the Carrot looks more interesting with its redish central flowers, and tinge of pink around the edge of the flower head.
In the pond the Water Mint is flowering, below right, and well as the Purple Loosestrife, and Hemp Agrimony as shown above.