JULY – THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER

Featured

July is a mixed month. As we come into high summer birds are quieter and less obvious, as they raise their broods, but there is always the chance of seeing the first migrants flying through as they leave for their winter grounds. July marks the start of the end of the wildflower season, but there is still plenty to see and, importantly,   plenty for insects to feed on. A wide range of hoverflies, dragonflies, damselflies and various bugs and beetles should be present, and all of the summer butterflies should be on the wing, including ‘His Imperial Majesty’, the Purple Emperor.

To find out more of what nature may have to offer in the coming month, read our guide for July.

Why not make the most of the – hopefully – good weather, and visit local wildlife sites around Rushcliffe? Click here for some useful links to nature reserves in Rushcliffe, both NWT and Friends of sites, and some other sites outside of Rushcliffe.

 Get closer to nature through our organised events

Sat 2nd Jul – Moth Morning at Wilwell Cutting Nature Reserve

View in detail the contents of last night’s moth trap with Paul Dulwich. Meeting 7 am.  NUMBERS ARE LIMITED to allow people to get a good view of the night’s haul. Contact Gordon Dyne (gordon.dyne@gmail.com) to reserve a slot.

Bioblitz 2022 at Rushcliffe Country Park Saturday 2nd July evening

Bats walk and moth trapping

Bioblitz 2022 at Rushcliffe Country Park Sunday 3rd July 10am to 5pm

Do you own survey or accompany in walks and talks various experts in birds, plants, insects etc.

For more detailed information.  Click here

Wednesday 13th July      Evening walk round Dewberry Hill Nature Reserve at Radcliffe on Trent

Meet 6.30 pm at the entrance on Cropwell Road (going out of Radcliffe), parking on the left about 150m beyond the traffic lights up the hill. For more information contact Gordon Dyne (gordon.dyne@gmail.com)

Sunday 17th July     Bingham Linear Park  Nature Walk

Walk to see what is about – insects, birds, flowers. Wear clothing suitable for the weather and stout shoes/boots as the path is rough. The path can also get quite overgrown. Bring a drink if hot and a hat. Meet at top of steps by Tithby Road Bridge, Bingham 1000 to 1300.

Sunday 17th July   Gotham Open Gardens

1030 to 1230 Gotham Nature Reserve (SSSI)   –   Family activities

1300 to 1800 Gardens open

For more information click here

Sunday 24th July Wildflower Walk at Cotgrave Country Park

Walk in the park and explore our wonderful wildflowers!

10am to 12 noon. Meet at Hollygate Lane Car Park at 10 am. No dogs please! 15 participants (Children aged 10 plus welcome if accompanied by an adult). Adults £2 Children Free.

Booking at www.Ticketsource.co.uk/the-friends-of-cotgrave-country-park.

BEAVER REINTRODUCTION PROJECT  – ONLINE TALK

After this year’s AGM, Northern Nature Recovery Manager Janice Bradley gave an excellent talk on Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s exciting new Beaver Project at the Idle Valley Nature Reserve.

The talk was recorded, and is now available to view via Eventbrite. Viewing the talk costs £3 (incl. booking fee), and all funds raised will be donated to the Beaver Project. The talk will be available on YouTube until the end of September. For more information, including a link to Evenbrite, click here.

Work Parties

Our local nature reserves rely on volunteers to help maintain them, and organise regular work parties.  July’s dates are listed here, so if you have some spare time and energy please feel free to join in – you will be very welcome!

Don’t forget, you can find out more about what’s happening with nature in Rushcliffe by following us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SouthNottsWildlifeGroup

 

Notts WT Work Party dates

Here are dates for Notts Wildlife Trust volunteer work parties in the southern half of Notts coming up in the next few weeks including a couple in the Rushcliffe area. Click on the links for more details.

Attenborough

Monday 4th July – Delta – Balsam work

Tuesday 5th July – Delta – Balsam work

Friday 8th July – Delta – Balsam work

 

Monday 18th July – Delta Meadow

Tuesday 19th July – Delta Meadow

Friday 22nd July – Delta Hide – Meadow work

Attenborough Women’s Group

Saturday 16th July – Delta – Balsam work

Attenborough Sunday Group

Sunday 10th July – Butterfly Patch

Sunday 24th July – Location TBC

Tuesday Group

Tuesday 5th July – Kimberley Meadow – Hay work

Tuesday 12th July – Teversal Pastures – Common Standards Monitoring

Tuesday 19th July – Dukes Wood – Meadow management

Tuesday 26th July – Location TBC

South Notts Group

Wednesday 6th July – Skylarks – Path work

Wednesday 20th July – Skylarks – Meadow management

 

Beaver Reintroduction Project  

The opportunity to find out more about Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trusts exciting new Beaver Project up at the Idle Valley Nature Reserve with our Northern Nature Recovery Manager Janice Bradley. This illustrated talk was originally given as part of South Notts Local Group (NWT) AGM.

Janice explains the rationale behind the reintroduction and why it is being done at there. Supported by lots of images and videos, Janice gave us an up-to-the-minute picture of progress, including some resourceful behaviour by the resident Longhorn cattle, and the apparent universal appeal to other animals of beaver scent! At the end she took a number of questions from audience members.

Viewing the talk costs £3 (incl booking fee) via Eventbrite, follow this link to purchase link to talk https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/talk-recording-beaver-reintroduction-at-idle-valley-nature-reserve-tickets-371200198787 and. You can then access the talk via YouTube, accessible till the end of Sept.

Funds raised will be donated by SNG to support the Beaver Project.

Wildlife Trust Podcasts

Wildlife podcasts created by County Wildlife Trusts around the country. Had a look through and these include series on Wild Cornwall (from Cornwall WT no less), Derbyshire Wildlife (by guess who ?), Greystones Wildlife Friendly Farm. There are also podcasts about the Dawn Chorus, Wildlife Gardening, Bats and the perennial Hedgehog and other things as well. Worth a look (or listen).

Follow this link to the Wildlife Trusts web site that provides follow up links to the participating Trusts

https://wildlifetrusts.us16.list-manage.com/track/click?u=589cf5d7d1ba1571a10c79d77&id=482fa25da9&e=ec349ace72

Rushcliffe BC`s No Mow Scheme enters it`s second year

It’s great to enjoy summer and our ‘No Mow’ areas across Rushcliffe are pollinator sites to encourage wildlife and habitats to thrive even further!
There’s now over 20 sites that state ‘please excuse the weeds, we are feeding the bees!’ 🐝🌻
Last year this scheme covered 6 locations, this year it has expanded to 22 locations . It is perhaps an idea that Parish Councils might look at in relation to sites they manage and for that matter companies and even individuals.
See link this link for more about the scheme and a full list of sites) : https://bit.ly/3PKr44n

Sustainable Urban Drainage Schemes (SUDS)

SUDS are a feature of all new housing developments and are designed to provide the capacity to prevent heavy rain overpowering the drainage system and causing local flooding. The excess can then drain away as the pressure on the drainage network dissipates. It is likely that you will have noticed these deep sided, sloped “pits”, the size and number will vary from location to location depending on numbers and geography. Although from a wildlife point of view a more shallowish and extensive area would be the ideal, in general SUDS ponds are steep deep sided basins, as essentially the builder wants to reduce the footprint of the feature – space is money.

Now I had assumed that they would be designed to be dry most of the time (principally from a safety point of view, but also to maximize capacity ), and some do seem to be grassed over and dry. However looking at the ones created locally this does not generally appear to be the case. Quite a few have reed growing in them and even in June they often have a thin layer of water in them. Is this deliberate to provide a shallow pond habitat or a product of ground water levels ? How beneficial might these be for wildlife ?

If they do retain some water into the summer this might benefit frogs and newts, and if they retain it  throughout the year other creatures like damsel and dragonflies might also be able to exploit them. It would also help if the banks were allowed to be reasonably wild ie not heavily mown. Although as many SUDS “ponds” are situated between the houses and the road I rather suspect neat and tidy will be the order of the day, at least until all the houses are sold !

As with housing, location, location, location also matters for wildlife. Sandwiched between housing and a road, a common practice, as I suspect it pushes the houses back from the road, the possibilities for colonisation is likely to be slow. But at the Wilford Fields wildlife site one of the SUDS is situated directly adjacent the site and when I was last visited seemed to be fairly wild (but dry) and can be viewed as an extension of the wildlife area.

The SUDS pond at the housing development by the Rushcliffe Country Park is tucked in a corner of the site at the back and also seems to be retaining some water over an extended period. It is adjacent to the Ruddington country park access path and the railway land beyond, so again somewhat more open to wider influence.

Grasses are important, grasses are diverse

We tend to think of grass as just grass. In fact there are some 150 different  species of grass identified in the UK. Some are common and widespread, others are denizens of specialist environments such as mountains, moors and bogs, whilst a select few form the grasses that make up the ultimate man made specialist environments of amenity grassland, sports fields and grazing pastures. But for me one of the most fascinating facts about grass is that it didn`t really exist to any significant amounts until towards the end of the age of the dinosaurs. And really became widespread and ubiquitous across the world in the last 60 million years (along with the insects and animals that exploit them).

Grass diversity is important as many insects identify specific grass types as their egg laying plant of choice. So for example many of the hundreds of moth species are grass specialists. It is also an important food source for insects and larger animals both wild and domesticated. These tend to exhibit adaptations to cope with the silica in grass blades, which creates heavy wear on teeth and may also inhibit digestion. So creatures habitually grazing on grass have enlarged teeth (or mandibles) or constantly refresh their dentures. The other grass survival strategy involves fresh growth from it`s base so it can recover from heavy grazing (or mowing), fire and draught.

There are probably some 30-40 grasses found locally. Some are relatively straightforward to identify, once you get your eye in, such as Cocksfoot, False Oat Grass, Yellow Oat Grass (these first three are a major constituent of many country road verges), Perennial Ryegrass (a common constituent of man made grassland) plus Crested Dogstail, Meadow Foxtails, Sweet Vernal Grass, Quaking Grass and Yorkshire Fog. But others, such as the Meadow Grasses, Bents, Fescues, Hair Grasses and Bromes  require an ID book, a hand lens, patience and paracetmol to pin down to a specific species.

But even if you don`t want to go that far, when walking through a grassland, don`t just look at the showy flowers, pay attention to the varied structures of the grasses, they are a key component of the complex web of bio-diversity that makes up the natural world.

Sharphill Wood Bird Survey

As in recent years, a spring bird survey has been carried out at Sharphill Wood, with visits from late March to early June. The report is on our website:
In addition, we have now completed the annual cycle of inspecting nest boxes where Blue Tit and Great Tit nest. A brief report is on our website:
John Elwell – Friends of Sharphill Wood

Our butterflies need help!

This week saw publication of alarming news about the state of butterflies in the UK. A beautiful and important part of the UK’s wildlife, they are highly sensitive indicators of the health of the environment and play crucial roles in the food chain as well as being pollinators of plants.

The State of the UK’s Butterflies 2015 report found that 76% of the UK’s resident and regular migrant butterflies declined in abundance, occurrence or both over the last four decades.

Now Butterfly Conservation is warning that time is running out to save some of Britain’s best-loved insects, with the latest Red List assessment of butterflies, published this week, revealing a 26% increase in the number of species threatened with extinction. For more details, go to:

https://butterfly-conservation.org/news-and-blog/half-of-british-butterfly-species-on-new-red-list

Conserving butterflies will improve our whole environment for wildlife and enrich the lives of people now and in the future.  To better understand why butterflies matter, go to:

https://butterfly-conservation.org/butterflies/why-butterflies-matter

One of the ways we can help make a difference for butterflies and other pollinators is to make our gardens more welcoming places for them, and Butterfly Conservation has published  two invaluable guides to help us: ‘Pit stops for Pollinators’ and ‘Gardening for Butterflies’.  They can be found at

https://butterfly-conservation.org/pit-stops-for-pollinators?fbclid=IwAR2w08rQE1YJLsp4LVj0crPvwSQwSmOaNDPcto6kjOky0gOPEvYiyngTS7w

and

https://butterfly-conservation.org/how-you-can-help/get-involved/gardening/gardening-for-butterflies

 

Orchids in a changing climate

In his Weather Eye column in The Times on Monday 23rd May, Paul Simons reflected on orchids’ role as a good indicator of Britain’s warming climate.  In recent years, several foreign orchids have begun to appear here. Quite common in the Mediterranean, the Tongue Orchid Serapias lingua has begun to establish itself in England, having been found in Essex a few years ago. Last June, the Small-flowered Tongue Orchid Serapias parviflora was discovered on the roof garden of a London tower block and, subsequently, at sites in Suffolk and Cornwall. A third foreign orchid to arrive is Himantoglossum robertianum, a close cousin of the resident Lizard Orchid, discovered in Oxfordshire.

It is thought that orchid seeds are so light they are easily blown across the Channel – so have they been coming here unknown for many years? – and new varieties are only now growing and flowering as a consequence of the changing, warmer, climate.

In Rushcliffe we have a relatively small number of resident orchid species compared to Southern England.  One of them, the Bee Orchid Ophrys apifera, found at various sites including Wilford Claypits, Skylarks and Rushcliffe Country Park is experiencing something of a boom. In the 1960s it was largely confined to grassland in southern and southeastern England, but in recent years has spread northwards, appearing in different habitats including disturbed ground, reaching Scotland in 2003.  Interestingly, although an insect mimic whose flower imitates the shape, markings and furry texture of a bee, it is largely self-pollinating.

Bee Orchid (Chris Overton)

Sadly, the good news of the spread of Bee Orchids may not be entirely representative of the situation as a whole: in her Nature Notes in the next day’s Times, Melissa Harrison writing about Greater Butterfly orchids noted that “like most of the 50-odd orchid species in the UK, greater butterfly orchids have declined sharply since the middle of the last century…”

An update from the Grizzled Skipper hunters.

We are entering what is usually the central part of the flight season for the grizzled skipper. We usually get most of our sightings from around this time of the season and also it is a good time to search for both the butterfly and its eggs (as the females have been on the wing for a few weeks now).
On the 9th may we had reports of a grizzled skipper on the wing at Orston Plaster Pits. This is the first report at this site since 2015. 3 days later we received reports of the first grizzled skipper at Bingham Linear Park and on Saturday we received news of the first sighting of grizzled skipper at Saxondale. Also this week we had confirmation of the continued presence of grizzled skipper at Colston Gate. If you remember, last year grizzled skipper were discovered at this site for the very first time.
In the south west of the county, we received news yesterday of grizzled skipper still being present near Rushcliffe Halt along the Great Central Railway. Again having not been seen at this site for a few years, eggs were observed one of the butterflies food plants. (the previous sighting was in 2019). This is great news and illustrates the value of egg searches (see picture attached – thanks Brian).
In the east of the county, we have received our first records of the years from Cotham Station site and the adjacent Cotham disused railway line (including the sustran’s section running from Newark to Cotham). Records continue to come in from Staunton Quarry and Flawborough too.
Sadly, it sounds as though a large part of the suitable habitat on the eastern side of Langar airfield has been grubbed up or ploughed under. This was a very reliable series of sites so this is obviously very bad news. However, we are still seeing the butterfly in the general area as we received records from the disused railway south of Barnstone (near Langar) earlier this week.
We still haven’t had reports of Grizzled skipper from the Old Coal Stocking Yard at Newstead however I would welcome any records from across Nottinghamshire.
We still have space for our ‘Open your eyes’ event on Friday at Staunton Quarry. If you would like to come along please contact myself or Emma Gilbert
(Emma.Gilbert@nottscc.gov.ukand) we will book you’re a place. The forecast isn’t great but we may be lucky and even in not ideal conditions we can show you how to search for (and find) grizzled skipper eggs.
Chris Jackson