What a joy it is to be able to get to the reserve for my exercise on many days during this extraordinary time of lockdown. I can get there in ten minutes, walking from my front door, and feel really privileged to have this glorious place right on my doorstep. I have enjoyed the arrival of the lambs and looking for other wildlife and fauna. We have had an unprecedented time of dry, hot weather which seems to have affected the arrival of the orchids in particular which I remember being particularly prolific last year. I have noted a few of the highlights below for you in the form of a blog.

 

April 2020

The arrival of the Herdwick lambs in mid-April was a welcome site after the wet winter we had.

    

April also saw the arrival of rabbits, hares across the nearby fields and cowslips as well as calves to the Dexter cattle up on the hillside. 

      

May 2020

I was searching for orchids expecting to see the early purple orchids but haven’t found any of these. I think maybe the heat and dryness has affected them. However one evening we were walking in the reserve, around 5pm in bright daylight, and found a badger ambling around which was rather unusual and a few other people in the village reported seeing it as well so not sure what happened to its internal clock.

 

June 2020

Two deer seen in the new lower field with the chalk butterfly bank. The deer were happy to watch me and carry on munching. The butterfly bank has some vetch growing on it and some tufty grass but again due to the dryness seems to be struggling to really get going with any wildflowers, however the plugs planted and seeds sown by volunteers are slow growing perennials that are unlikely to flower in their first year. Elsewhere in the reserve the wildflowers are now coming into bloom and orchids have arrived.

I believe I have seen plenty of yellow rattle which is a sign of a good wildflower area also knapweed, bird’s-foot-trefoil, meadowsweet, St John’s wort, common rock-rose, mouse ear hawkweed, agrimony, lady’s bedstraw and scabious to name just a few.

With regards to orchids there are plenty of pyramidal orchids in the top fields in particular, fragrant orchids and common spotted orchids dotted around and a few bee orchids have also been seen. Still desperately searching for the burnt tip orchid which is the flower of Wiltshire and reputedly in the reserve. 

      

Of interest to some would be the many sightings of broomrape which is a parasitic plant and has no chlorophyll.

 

Despite lots of searching I never found a burnt tip orchid so will have to search again next year!

- Judy Evans