Monday, 9 June 2014
Shadowbrook Meadows NR, Scarecrows and Emperor Moth Caterpillar Update
Last week I finally went to a local Warwickshire Wildlife Trust meadow I've been meaning to visit for years. Shadowbrook Meadows fall within the much larger designated area of Bickenhill Meadows. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and covers 4.4 hectares. The reserve consists of two dry meadows and 2 wet meadows bisected by a small stream and each field is surrounded by hedgerows believed to be 600 years old.
What makes these meadows so special is the fact that over the centuries they have never been sprayed, fertilised or ploughed. This unimproved grassland demonstrates what much of our countryside would have looked like before the changes in agricultural practice last century. The biodiversity of the meadows has been maintained by using unaltered traditional hay cutting and grazing regimes.
The meadows are full of wildflowers and grasses in the summer. Butterflies seen include Common Blue and Small Copper and Pignut flowers attract Chimney Sweeper moths together and 6 nationally scarce insect species occur. In autumn several species of waxcap fungi can be found in the meadows.
My first view of the reserve
One of the Tenthredo sawflies (probably T arcuata). This individual is covered in yellow pollen but the yellow markings of the insect mimic wasps.
I was really chuffed to see the "Footballer" Hoverfly (so named because of the stripes). Also known as the Brindled Hoverfly (Helophilus pendulus).
The first of the two "dry" meadows
The second "dry" meadow
Following the path round the edge of the meadows
I don't think I've ever seen so many Yellow Rattle Plants - they were growing everywhere.
Honeysuckle in the hedgerows
Red clover and Yellow Rattle
There were some beautiful trees along the hedgerow
Soldier Beetle (Cantharis rustica)
Record shot of a Lacewing - it was very windy when we were walking round which probably accounted for the lack of butterflies. We only saw a few Speckled Woods and "whites" and one of the blues too far away to be identified.
A large mass of Speedwell was flowering at the base of a hedgerow
Sawfly - Tethredo livida
I was really pleased to find this Scorpion Fly
The meadows are on the flight path to Birmingham International Airport and there were lots of these flying over every 5 minutes!
I would have liked to visit the wet meadows to see the Heath-spotted Orchids but after an hour and a half I'd managed to run out of time.
We drove home via Hampton-in-Arden. Last year I visited their Scarecrow Festival but I'd missed this year's so I took a few photos of this year's scarecrows from the car window as we drove through the village.
The four week old Emperor Moth caterpillars - now turning green!! They are rather a nightmare to clean out as when you try to transfer them with a paintbrush to a spare container they just cling onto leaves/kitchen paper in the container that needs cleaning. I am spending ages persuading each and everyone onto a leaf to get them into another container!