The Big Butterfly Count begins on Friday 15th July 2022 and will run until Sunday 7th August.
This is a UK-wide survey aimed at helping Butterfly Conservation assess the health of our environment simply by counting the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) we see.
More information is available on the dedicated survey website. From here, you can download an identification chart to assist with the survey. Alternatively, why not download the free app to assist with both identification and submission of results. This is available for both iOS and Android.
A lot of the work undertaken in recent weeks has focused on improving the woodland edges. This has been a mix of coppicing, laying new live hedge rows, putting cut material into dead hedges and complete tree removal (especially sycamore).
Although we are still a few months away from the frog breeding season, there is always something that can be done to increase the breeding success, One of the primary locations for frogs within the reserve is the pool that exists immediately south of the station platform. Water levels will naturally increase here during the winter months.
One factor in breeding success is access to sunlight and the warming effect of the sun’s rays then reaching the water. To that end, it is an annual process around the pool to cut back some of the willow. The pictures show a before and after at the northern end of the pool.
The cutting back produces waste wood, a lot of which is in straight lengths. This cut material is all incorporated into the dead hedge that surrounds most of the pool, This hedge provides the dual benefit of a natural habitat and a means of discouraging dogs from running into the pool, which is especially important during the breeding season.
The primary asset of Ashlawn Cutting is its grasslands. They are cut and cleared during the autumn/winter season every year. The cut material is always removed to avoid enriching the soil from the decaying vegetation. The grasslands are then best placed to provide the right environment for native wild flowers and grasses. This then forms the wanted environment to support a diversity of invertebrate life.
A group of dedicated volunteers are working on laying a boundary hedge where the cutting, runs alongside the Diamond Jubilee Wood.
The existing tree/scrub stock was not purpose planted for hedging, so the volunteers have to make the best of what is available. This often entails using thicker than desired tree trunks, which are “pleached” to leave a live connection to the rootstock.
The Autumn/Winter work parties resumed in early October. The primary focus has been on cutting the existing grasslands. There has also been some additional scrub clearance to both extend and enhance the existing grasslands.