local wildlife stories 2020
10th October 2020
The opportunity to sew yellow rattle seeds was taken at the monthly conservation working party led by Dhush from Groundworks at Allen's Field. We chose a spot near the butterfly sculptures in long grass which seems to be infrequently mown (hopefully). Several "plots" were prepared by removing grass to expose bare earth and seeds sewn. We will monitor next year to see if this was successful. Yellow rattle is parisitic on grass so should facilitate the planting of other wildflowers if it takes here.
July to September
Monthly tree recording and pond dipping/ quality checks at Blackmoor pond have continued with a small core group for each interacting at a safe distance with a few passers-by.
A group of 8 took part in our socially distanced dragonfly and butterfly walk this year. We saw more butterflies on this sunny day but there were fewer dragonflies and particularly damselflies around.Our spotting list (in chronological order): Southern Hawker, Red Admiral, Large White, Wood Ant nest, Common Darter, Cricket, Bumblebees including the Southern Cuckoo, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Gate Keeper, Crow, Peacock Butterfly, Speckled Wood, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Cinnabar Moth caterpillar, Small Skipper, Silverwash Fritillary, Green Veined White, Lizard, Four-spot Chaser, Downy Emerald Dragonfly, a darker Darter, Blue Damselfly, Red Damselfly, Marbled White.
Two more joined Tina this month for pond dipping and quality checks at Blackmoor Pond. She had visited alone in May and June. We found plenty of tiny creatures in the water but few mm sized ones, just a water slater and pond skater. It is difficult to get net samples as the edge is very shallow with a gravelly bottom. The edge of the pond is sharply defined in most areas with few reeds or other vegetation as cover for lavae or where invertebrates can climb to emerge in flying form.
A small group carried out tree recording in a private garden near one of our green corridors to prove that we can do this with social distancing
Our Spring walk was a quiet one with no one turning up at the start. The two of us enjoyed the walk and were pleased to see newts in the pond in Lily Hill park and lots of daffodils. Some trees are beginning to show leaf and wood anemones and celandines are looking lovely.
Our talk on Climate change was cancelled in order to help prevent the spread of Covid 19
The wildflower bed at South Ascot recreation area was maintained today - it has been slow to get going but there were signs of established plants this year. We were glad to have postponed for 1/2 an hour as we had a relatively dry session removing grass, planting some poppy seedlings which a donor had given from thinning their flowerbed and sowing some more seeds. The rain returned to water in the seeds and seedlings for us!
Thank you to our local Bracknell Forest Ranger, Rob Solomon for a wide ranging and useful talk on gardening for wildlife explaining some of the features that are useful to wildlife in our gardens and what we need to take account of when we add them to our gardens. It was very useful, at this time of year, when we think about how we can better support our wildlife, to listen to these suggestions and try and identify one or two things that we can change in our gardens this year to improve them as a habitat whether it's additional shelter, food or breeding sites. One suggestion was to add a stag beetle loggery (deciduous wood branches or trunk mostly buried in the soil) as stag beetles are endangered in Europe and only found in southern britain so we have an opportunity to support them.
Rob highlighted how private gardens in Britain cover an area estimated at over 10 million acres which is bigger than all of the country’s nature reserves combined. These gardens provide havens for wildlife, stepping stones and links between larger natural spaces. Unfortunately it is estimated that around a quarter of front gardens now have no plants and Rob showed how car parking can be provided along with plants which provide habitat and to be quite frank, make the houses look alot better.
Getting the work done before storm Dennis made itself felt in our area, we carried out the annual maintenance on the wildflower bed at Victory Field. We removed spent stalks, some grass, some encroaching bamboo and sowed some more seed. We noticed that the mixed native hedging planted at the entrance to the recreation area is doing well and have emailed the pc and a RBWM councillor suggesting planting similar hedging along the outside of the chainlink fence by the road where trees have been cut down to provide shelter from road noise and pollution and more habitat for local fauna.
Our 2nd Fun Wildlife Quiz in the Stag pub in Ascot was well attended with six teams of 6 people enjoying a sociable evening and trying to answer a very wide variety of questions some about nature but others very loosely connected to wildlife. Some teams regretted their choice of Joker round as they discovered Malcolm's enigmatic name for the round was not indicating what they hoped it might! Stan the stag beetle's team from BFNHS were a cut above the rest of us and had an impressive lead at the end over the local WiA supporters and BF Ranger teams who all scored very close to each other.Thanks to our quiz master Malcolm who pitched the questions at just the right level.
The winning team:
Winter Walk - a group of 14 met at the Stag pub on a mild dull morning and enjoyed each others company and a green and varied walk round the hills to the east of Ascot crossing the South Ascot green corridor and past Silwood Lake where corridors meet. We saw 3 roe deer near St. Michael's church and visited the ancient yew tree there.