Opening up the rides in our wood next to Springbok in February this year and removing the felled wood (see below) has already made a big difference to the woodland biodiversity. On a visit on 2 July which was a nice, sunny day I was elated by the number of large orange butterflies which were subsequently identified for me by Tom Parker as Silver Washed Fritillaries. There were also Meadow Brown and Large White. That may not sound that exciting but bear in mind that for the last 6 years the only butterfly to be spotted in these woods had been the Speckled Wood.
Here is the photographic evidence. I think this is a female Silver Washed Fritillary as it is rather more drab than the male. I’m relying on somebody to tell me if I’ve got this wrong.
I’ve also seen grey wagtail and wren in the wood for the first time and dragonflies (Southern Hawker). We also have at least one buzzard which appears to regard the wood as “home” as I see it virtually every time I visit. Mind you, the other thing which has increased in number are the deer – which aren’t welcome because they are so destructive. Not only do they eat the tops of the regenerating hazel coppice but also the flowers of a lot of the plants which provide food for other creatures. Grrr.
I also had a hot tip on how to identify Turkey Oak (see July entry below). I do know that the leaves are very different from the native oak but that can be hard to work out when you are looking at the leaves through a canopy of hazel. Apparently I need to look out for ‘hairy’ acorn cases which are unmistakable.