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Bugs, beetles and a corky fruited water dropwort

Angela Peters is our Community Wildlife Plans Project Officer, and helps New Forest communities to care for their local environment.

I linked up with Hordle Parish Council last week to run a wildlife event to get local residents involved with, and learning about, the wildlife on their doorstep.

Locals came along to find out what steps are being taken to improve the wildlife value of Dudley Avenue recreation ground in Hordle, while maintaining access for local people to enjoy. I was joined for the evening by Phil Budd, entomologist and all round naturalist, and Gary Palmer, a wildlife enthusiast and wildlife photographer.



We kicked off the evening with an introduction to the history of the area, which is an old landfill site. The recreation ground was grazed by ponies up until last year, and had limited wildlife interest as the grass was grazed very short.

The council planted an experimental wildflower area at the site this spring with a number of species sown onto prepared ground in a small area. The seed sown was selected due to its suitability to the soil, as well as the colour and interest it would show, and included poppy, cornflower and corncockle annuals. In addition, sections have been left unmown since April around the edges of the field to allow wildflowers already present in the seedbank to grow and create a diverse habitat.



After this work I surveyed the whole site in June and July this year and found 77 species of vascular plants, including 16 species of grass.

Some of the wildflowers that we found during the wildlife event included common knapweed, common bird’s foot trefoil and the interestingly-named corky fruited water dropwort. These native wildflowers are great nectar sources and food plants for invertebrates. Along the woodland edge hogweed provided nectar source for insects and some common mallow gave a splash of pink.

While we walked around we looked at wildflowers and discussed the management of the area, we also looked at a plume moth, meadow grasshoppers, soldier beetles, meadow brown butterflies and a couple of species of ladybirds.



At dusk the bat detectors came out and I explained the lifecycles of bats and their ecology, then we listened to common pipistrelles through the detectors. We then set out moth traps along the woodland edge to see what was attracted to the bright lights of the moth trapping equipment. 69 species of moth were recorded that night, including the peppered moth, elephant hawkmoth, brimstone, swallowtail, common emerald and buff arches ,  as well as the nationally scarce festoon and Tortrix moth Evergestis limbata. Despite the name ‘moth trap’ all moths are released after identification.



In the future the council are looking to incorporate local native wildflower seeds to enrich the existing flora across the wider site, as well as involving the local community in hand scything, an environmentally friendly and traditional way to cut small hayfields.

If you live in the New Forest and want to get involved in this project, or in any part of the Community Wildlife Plans project, email me at angela.peters@newforestnpa.gov.uk.

This entry was posted by Matt Stroud on Tuesday 15/07/2014

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