At the beginning of August Judith returned to the LDV once again so that we could re-cap on what was learned during last year’s Long Term Monitoring Network days – particularly the tricky grasses! The morning was spent at Thornton Ellers where we found 31 species of grasses/sedges/rushes and 66 species of wildflower, all from the meadow and along the hedgerow. Full write up of the day can be read here.
The big butterfly count ran until the 10th August (run by Butterfly Conservation), which involves recording all species seen during a fifteen minute walk or from a fixed point. We chose to start our walk from the NNR Base Garden and continued along the lane which leads down to Wheldrake Ings. We recorded 77 butterflies of 12 species, with the most recorded being Small Tortoiseshell (28), Peacock (15) and Small White (11). Highlights also included several Comma’s, Gatekeepers and Small & Large Skippers.
Throughout August our volunteers and the Friends of Skipwith Common (FOSC) have been helping John the Shepherd round up the 300 ewes and their lambs on the Common – firstly for shearing and then for a general health check, ear tagging and worming. Hard work in the hot weather but essential for the welfare of the stock and the subsequent management of the site. The main management objective for the Common is to restore and maintain open heathland with a programme of scrub clearance and felling of invasive birch trees. Trying to employ more traditional and ancient methods, the estate own and manage a herd of the primitive and hardy rare breed Hebridean sheep, Longhorn cattle and Exmoor ponies. These animals graze and browse the scrub and coarser grasses and vegetation, keeping them in check and providing suitable conditions for many of the rare and specialist wildflowers and other wildlife that depends on the heathland.