Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Tuesday 4th September

This week we continued to see a further ‘greening’ of the Common following the hot spell. Harebells, mentioned last month, seem to have cropped up in a number of new places – as have St John’s-wort and Wild Basil. It is good to see that the Common can recover so quickly.

As we started some of our autumn management work, a few species have come to light. In particular, we have disturbed quite a few toads that have been hiding deep in the grass. It always seem odd to see them so far from water  Рbut they will stay for the winter, returned to the Moors in the spring.

Toad

Toad

And, for the second week running, we have been joined during our lunch break by a Dark Bush-cricket. Although well hidden in the leaf litter, these Bush-crickets are big enough not to be overlooked!

Dark Bush-cricket

Dark Bush-cricket

Advertisements

Tuesday 7th August

A couple of my favourite species can now be found on the reserve. A few of the delicate Harebell flowers have started to appear, albeit in rather reduced numbers so far this year.

P1010758

Harebells

My other favourite is one of our late emerging dragonflies, the Migrant Hawker. Despite its name it is very much a resident these days. This particular individual was photographed on Weston Moor – just down below us in the Gordano Valley. Although they will return to the rhynes to breed their initial inclination is to ‘wander’ and, as a result, they can be found in quite large numbers on Walton Common. As they aren’t territorial, if you see a ‘swarm’ of these medium sized dragonflies they are probably this species.

Migrant Hawker

Migrant Hawker

Finally, the reserve volunteer group and our colleagues at Avon Wildlife encourage you to visit us and enjoy this little local gem of a nature reserve. However we would ask that you avoid any kind of fire or BBQ …. and not just at this time of year. Some areas of the reserve have a very fragile flora that can easily be damaged by even a small fire. Enjoy a picnic instead?

Tuesday 25th July

There are a whole host of different types of thistle on Walton Common. However, it is difficult to beat the Woolly Thistle which is present in good numbers at the moment. I was admiring one when I spotted a beautiful little ‘grasshopper’, apparently feeding on the thistle. A quick look up (and verified by the experts on iSpot) and I was able to confirm it as a Long-winged Conehead. A species not previously recorded on the reserve …. but I suspect that there are a number of gaps in the list of grasshoppers and crickets present.

Long-winged Conehead (on Woolly Thistle)

Long-winged Conehead (on Woolly Thistle)

I have been a bit slow in acknowledging thanks to the photographers who have been sending me their photos. They are always appreciated and I will catch up in due course. In the meantime I had a very interesting photo from Andrew Waygood earlier this year of a leveret he spotted on the reserve.

Brown Hare (leveret)

Brown Hare (leveret)

 

Thursday 12th July

This summer, whatever happens next, will be remembered for this long hot spell. Clearly it has an impact on the wildlife – especially the plants, many of which are looking rather crisp now. However, a few storms and I expect life to return!

We seem to be having a good year for Purple Hairstreak butterflies this year. These tiny butterflies can be a challenge to find. Thanks to Giles who found a tree with about 4 or 5 on show!

Purple Hairstreak

Purple Hairstreak (courtesy of Giles Morris)

There is a bit of a ‘lull’ in butterfly numbers in June when our early flying species e.g. Green Hairstreak, Dingy Skipper etc. start to disappear. However, we are now moving into a great period when our ‘browns’ e.g. Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Marbled Whites start to emerge. It is also the time for the first of our Fritillaries – always a treat!

All of these were seen yesterday and their numbers should hopefully increase as the summer progresses. We should also see Gatekeepers on the wing. These can appear in their hundreds in a some years!

[I failed to take any decent photos yesterday so I have resorted to a couple of old ones for years gone by.]

Dark Green Fritillary

Dark Green Fritillary

 

Marble White

Marbled White

Tuesday 5th June

A lot of work has taken place on the Common in last few years. In summary, we have been pushing back the encroaching treeline; controlling the bracken; extending the autumn hay cut and, of course, introduced grazing with the Dexter cattle. The intention is, of course, to improve the calcareous grassland for the benefit of all of the plants and insects that depend on it.

This summer, if you are up on the Common, you might find groups of us crawling around on the ground acting rather suspiciously. What we are trying to do is quantify the changes that we have been making. This is being done by monitoring the plants growing there. Back in 2014 some baseline monitoring took place. This year, by repeating the 2014 work we should get a good idea of changes that have taken place.

Milk-wort

Milk-wort

Horseshoe Vetch

Horseshoe Vetch

A couple of our wonderful wildflowers above that have benefited from recent management work.

 

Tuesday 1st May

The reserve is starting to come to life with all sorts of plants now flowering. Still plenty to come e.g. Rock-rose, but our Early Purple Orchids are certainly coming along nicely. We also seem to have a very showing of Cowslips and Bluebells this year.

I’ve been on the look out for our first dragons of the year, and so was pleased to find my first in the form of a Large Red Damselfly. Hopefully many more to come!

Large Red Damselfly

Large Red Damselfly

Usually around now I post pictures of our Early Purple Orchids and our Green Hairstreak butterflies (both of which are on the reserve now). I thought I’d miss them out this year, but I received a beauty from Peter Evans that I had to include.¬† Other butterflies are starting to appear, but the conditions haven’t been great this year (yet?). Of the other insects, there seem to have been quite a few Bee-flies around this year.

Green Hairstreak (Peter Evans)

Green Hairstreak (Peter Evans)

Bee-fly

Bee-fly