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Recent moth news

Early July has bought out the moths,  see pictures by Phil.

Here’s a couple of better photos of Silverwashed Fritillaries, taken south of Ashlawn Bridge on Sunday 2nd July. They were out in good number, but I was still quite a long way away from the ones that were willing to pose for me! Also a photo of a Small Heath taken on 19th June. Small Heaths were out in very good number (I could see as many as four at once) among the grasses on the land immediately east of Ashlawn Cutting and south of the crematorium on that day.

Report & Pictures by Max Amos

 

One of the challenges of the Trust in protecting and enhancing our nature reserves and the wider landscape is the control of invasive plant species.  Often choking out our native wildlife, non-native invaders can have a serious impact and reigning them in is always a difficult task.  Manually pulling or treating with herbicides are often the normal approach to the vegetative vagabonds but it can be back braking and time consuming.  However, to help in tackling one particular invasive species – the fairy fern or floating water fern Azolla filiculoides which originates from the Americas, a small weevil has come to our rescue.  Mass reared by the Centre of Agriculture and Bioscience (CABI) the tiny 2mm long North American weevil Stenopelmus rufinasus will chomp its way through the infestation at Ashlawn Cutting Local Nature Reserve, Rugby where the Azolla has a grip on the old station pools and ponds.  Fully tried and tested, once the weevil has eaten its way through the Azolla it dies off and is no threat to any other native wildlife or plants.  So fingers crossed, the weevils have a healthy appetite and will do the hard work for us, munching their way to helping protect our wild spaces.

From Carl @ Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Here’s hoping for a great outcome, will be about twelve weeks before we really start to see how effective they are and will take a while before they eat it all, probably into next year but will be great to have life back in the Marsh and surrounding area, It has taken us two years to get this far what with research and obtaining various permissions and then CABI having enough weevils to fulfil our order. And with the weevils costing about 50 pence each and being the size of a pin head, we have had to buy nearly £1000 worth of weevils to hopefully sort the issue, likely caused by an idle moment of someone emptying their fish bowl without due consideration to the impacts.

From Chairman Steve of Local Group

Orchids @ Station Pool

Good numbers of Southern Marsh Orchids appearing @ the pool.  Heathland butterflies out and around now.

More pictures by Ken Monk.

 

Lovely day for a morning stroll, with highlights: two Grasshopper Warblers ‘reeling’ between Pytchley and Ashlawn Bridges, a young fox at the bottom of the zig-zag path, 30+ Early Purple Orchids in the Station Pools, Beautiful Damoiselle, Four Spotted chasers, Large Red Damselfly, eleven species of butterfly including Brown Argus and Small Heath, and of course loads of emerging wildflowers.

Pictures & report by Steve Batt

Spring has sprung

Ashlawn update 4th April

Steve proved spring has truly sprung, with a find on our 2nd April workparty to tidy up the Onley Glade and embankment.

Steve proves its spring

The embankment top was raked to clear years of leaf litter, and patches of a variety of wildflowers including Bird’s-foot Trefoil seeded.

Red Admiral, and Brimstone butterflies were seen, and further up the reserve Orange-tip, Green-veined White and Speckled Wood were on the wing for the first time this year (see pics). The first Holy Blue appeared the following day.

Flowers included Coltsfoot, Dandelions, Violets, and glorious Blackthorn.

Tadpole’s in the new pool at Pytchley Bridge NE are growing fast.

Early wasps were noted and a strange fungus like blob found by Steve Battt on a dead willow prompted  research to  find it was “False puff ball”, Enteridium Lycoperdon, a “slime mould” that can be capable of movement!!

It starts off as a white globular mass about the size of half a golf ball, and then develops a silver-grey papery skin beneath which the brown spores develop. When the spores have been dispersed all they leave behind is a faint brown ‘spore print’ patch on the tree bark.

We also found St. Georges mushrooms, Calocybe gambosa fruiting near Onley lane.

 

Ashlawn update March

We were pleased to get a lot of favourable comments from people, many new to the reserve, out enjoying its delights now that the new path is completed.

Birds were starting to set up nesting territories, so in the first few days of the month our workparty tasks changed. We finished tidying up the most recently coppiced scallop near Pytchley Bridge and moved on to seeding and planting areas disturbed by the creation of the new path.

We also cleared a small area of Tennis Meadow near the courts, to sow seeds supplied by the national Grow Wild project.

We planted Alder Buckthorn tree whips, provided by Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire, in a number of places on the reserve to provide the Brimstone butterfly with more of its larval food.

Pussy Willow started flowering attracting the first Comma and Brimstone butterflies on the 9th, and the first Coltsfoot and Marsh Marigold flowers were showing.

Ashlawn’s Frogs

The contractors had completed the job a few days before the first frogs were found to have already spawned on 23rd Feb.

The frogs were not too put off by the variable weather despite some cold mornings, and most had completed spawning and left for home by the 14th March.

A very satisfactory 1203 clumps of spawn were laid on the reserve, very similar numbers to last year.

Most were set in Reservoir Pond (436), Pytchley Marsh (312), and Station Marsh (200).

They had even spawned 60 clumps in the new pool created as part of the path drainage work just north of Pytchley Bridge, even though it had no vegetation.

We were most surprised to see the first tadpoles in this pool on 19th March.

Pictures and report from Steve B, Steve W, and Phil P.

Bright and early the Network Rail De-Veg team turned up shortly after 7.00 a.m. to prepare for the day in the mist. Fortunately by the time most got going it had turned into a glorious sunny day. There were 28 volunteers in all on site and a huge amount was achieved with the experts using chippers, chainsaws and brushcutters and the rest clearing up and preparing for the chipper.

Absolutely delighted with what they achieved, it would have taken the Group weeks to clear that amount and we now have a fabulous new habitat for wildlife. Huge thank you to Network Rail for a tremendous benefit for our endeavours to make Ashlawn Cutting special for all those who enjoy it now.

Report from Steve Batt

 

Swiftly Hedging

WOW!!!!! What a fantastic job, I’m amazed at your efforts and achievement today. Well done to you all.  I can’t wait to see the finished job.
Quote form Nev
Yes we were well pleased to have finished this overgrown hedge.There’s plenty of brash to dispose of in the ditch but that can wait for another day. Attached are my pictures taken as we were getting ready to go after a busy day.
Quote from Steve Wright

Froggy February

Ashlawn Frog update 27th Feb

Suddenly after a drab January, half way through February the weather warmed up and a few frogs had been noted crossing local roads on 16th Feb. when the air temperature was just 8.5C.  On the 20th the temperature shot up suddenly to peak at 14.4C.

Maybe this warmed the water slightly as on the 23rd Steve Wright found frogs active in Station Marsh pools and they had already set more than 20 clumps of spawn, and this had increased to 85 by the following day.   Some Frogs were also appearing in Pytchley Marsh.

The weather cooled but despite that the spawn count in Station Marsh pools had increased to 180 by the 27th there was little activity on the rest of the reserve apart from that in Pytchley Marsh and a few at Ashlawn Bridge Flood Pool.

We wait to see which pools are going to be favoured this year as so many changes have taken place with the new path having just been completed. Last year the most favoured pool was Reservoir Pond where they were spawning by 21st Feb. to eventually set 558 clumps there. 2016 proved to be a very good year with 1177 clumps of spawn set on the reserve.

This was the best count since 2008

Tues 28th February 2017   A sunny start to the day, but cold & by late morning rain, making it feel even colder and raw. Higher water level in Station Marsh, frogs out of site, maybe 7 recent clumps of spawn. Ashlawn Bridge flood, 14+ frogs, 8 clumps. No activity elsewhere.

Pictures and report from Phil P.

Odd sightings

200217 Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara. sec.10E Ashlawn (2)This Coltsfoot, tussilago fafara,  flowering where they have spread the mud from the ditch South of Pytchley Bridge. Section 10E. Also, Marsh marigolds are starting to flower.

Some interesting fungi were noticed, below is Ochre Bracket Trametes ochracea  at the Birch Pool.

180217 Fungus Trametes ochracea at birch pool. Ashlawn

Pictures and comments from Steve Wright

 

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