BC small 12

Summer

 The middle of June is the usual time for the Silver-studded Blues to start to emerge. At this time an experienced eye is needed to ensure they are not confused with the Common Blue. Look for them around any of the heathery areas, or in nearby grasslands. For the first hour or so after emergence the butterfly remains motionless on a stem of vegetation as it pumps up its wings, and ants continue to protect it in return for fluids from the butterfly’s body and face, until it is ready to fly off and find a mate.

Other butterflies to be seen in summer are Small Copper, Small Heath, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper as well as the Whites. New generations of Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Comma and Painted Lady appear. Speckled Wood can be seen in some the wooded areas of the reserve, and occasionally a Wall near some of the bare, stony ground. Purple Hairstreaks can usually be seen around some of the oak trees, many of which are quite small and offer good opportunities for the photographer as the butterflies will come down from the canopy onto lower branches. Treble-bar moths fly around the grassy areas in the daytime, as well as the red and black Cinnabar and Burnet moths. Burnets have red spots whilst the Cinnabar has a red stripe.

A variety of wildflowers colour the reserve. One of the reserve’s specialities, as it is the only confirmed site in the county for this species, is Heath Dog-violet, the pale blue flowers of which can be seen in some of the grassy areas. Bell Heather with its crimson bells starts to flower in June and the flowers of Bird’s-foot Trefoil provide a yellow carpet in some of the grasslands. The tiny flowers of some typical acid grassland species such as Sheep’s-bit, Shepherd’s Cress and Bird’s-foot appear. Later in the summer the yellow flowers of St John’s Wort and the pink flowers of Common Centaury can be seen.

In the pond a number of damselfly and dragonfly species breed, including Emperor Dragonfly, Southern Hawker Dragonfly and Large Red Damselfly. The pond provides good feeding opportunities for Swallows, Martins and Swifts which pick off insects just above or on the surface of the water. Newts breed in the pond.

Overhead the song of the Skylark, an emblem of lowland heath, is often to be heard as it flutters many feet above the ground, mainly on warmer and sunnier days.

Foxes, stoats and an abundance of rabbits populate the reserve. If you are very lucky you may see a stoat take a rabbit.