Yet another fine week on the reserve, good for the reptiles and butterflies. Almost every butterfly you see right now is a Scotch argus, while the slow worms have been risking decapitation by basking on the lawn when we’re trying to cut it. You’d really think they’d move when you start the mower, but no, they are so terminally gormless they’ll just lie there. So, if you ever see us, stomping up and down by the edge of the wall, hitting the ground with a brush, we haven’t lost the plot, we’re just trying to scare them off prior to mowing!
Another nice ‘spot’ this week was a bee beetle. I’ve not seen these very often and, as the name suggests, they’re a beetle trying to look like a bee. This copying of warning colours (in this case yellow and black stripes) is called mimicry and is the beetle trying to ward of potential predators by pretending to be something with a sting.
The adders have also been out in force….at least 5 females and one male on Tuesday. They are basking on and in the wall quite a lot and are wonderful to watch as they glide through the stones with liquid grace.
We also did some more path stimming this week. Waist-high wet bracken is deeply unpleasant to walk through and we do so want to keep the paths clear for our visitors! But it’s not so easy, the bracken grows so tall (over 6 feet) so it can collapse onto paths from a long way back. Which means extra strimming for us and another reason to add to my “why I don’t like bracken” list.
We held our ever-popular Wild Food Walk this week. This involves showing people the plants that our ancestors used on a daily basis for food or medicine, including the much- maligned stinging nettle. For most of us, these are just a nuisance which sting us when we’re wearing shorts or weeding. But they are also full of iron, make a tasty soup or beer and provide a fantastic source of fibres for making ropes or clothes. They’re just one example of the way we used to use almost every plant in the countryside.
Autumn is a great time to gather wild foods and some bits of the reserve are starting to look vaguely autumnal now. Some of the birches are yellowing slightly (although that could be partly drought stress) and the rowans are steadily ripening. So get out there and enjoy the last weeks of the holidays!