More space for wildlife pays off

Springbok Director Tom Parker has written up a visit he made to my wood on Rosemary Lane:

I visited the woods around in mid-July with a friend from my days at Kew Gardens, Carolin and she then took the pictures below. It was my first chance to see the newly opened up rides following the felling and clearing. The work had been done sensitively and in reasonably dry conditions so we now have the maximum amount of good habitat for woodland wildflowers and butterflies. The clearing of the brash in particular creates much more space for wildlife than in many commercial woodlands. With the light flooding in again to the woodland floor, it was immediately noticeable the amount of violets present.

It wasn’t long before we spotted a female Silver-washed Fritillary nectaring on thistles and other flowers. We saw it searching low down for suitable egg laying sites on tree trunks. The numbers of butterflies were quite low in the new rides but this is a reflection on the very advanced season causing many butterflies to emerge earlier than ever before. The Purple Emperor season was almost over when we visited, in most years it would have been at its height in mid-July . I am confident that next year these rides should be full of Silver-washed Fritillaries that spend the late summer and spring as caterpillars, feeding on the violets. Just inside Sidney wood we found a single White Admiral warming it’s self on the path.

Unfortunately I found no Wood Whites in Sidney wood earlier in the year, partly due to the extensive forestry operations temporarily damaging the habitat and also due my limited visits to search for this species. The second brood are now worth looking for in Sidney Wood.

Tom Parker

(Note: There was a second brood of Wood White in Butterfly Conservation’s Oaken Wood Reserve in late July/early August.)