3 weeks of wildness

Last week was a bit different to my normal week with 2 evening meetings meaning 2 late starts. I still managed to squeeze in a guided walk, a work party and some strimming though. On Monday 17th after starting late, I went for a walk around Fishlake Meadows in the early evening to see if there was anything different around at a different time. The Nice evening didn’t disappoint! I saw a moorhen and a mature chick near each other along the canal, noticed that the yellow loosestrife is coming in to flower, and heard a particularly energetic sedge warbler singing right next to the path. It was the sight of a huge number of peacock butterfly caterpillars that stole the show though, with their black spikes and small white spots they look quite threatening, particularly en masse.

Peacock caterpillars 2019

Huge number of peacock butterfly caterpillars on nettle.

18th June was a volunteer day at Blashford Lakes, doing some more work on tern rafts at the side of Ibsley lake. It was a bit of a grey and drizzly day which made it really quite easy to see a lot of insects that were struggling a little for energy. Whilst moving the rafts around, we disturbed this marbled white butterfly, It then posed on an ox-eye daisy for a long time, making it very easy to get a good photo.

Marbleld white 2019

Marbled white butterfly on ox-eye daisy.

On Wednesday while leading a guided walk for a local organic gardening group, we saw lots of lovely flowers, birds and insects. Water figwort was in flower, with its wonderful round red flowers with an open lid. I thought it looked like the flowers are providing a porch for visiting pollinators or that they’re little rabbits.

Figwort 2019

Water figwort in flower.

On Thursday I had another late start and lots of admin to catch up on, so I was mainly indoors at Testwood Lakes. Fortunately there can be wildlife everywhere, if you look hard enough. Just like this white mullein flower that’s managing to grow in the cracks of the paving just outside the office door.

White mullein 2019

White mullein in flower near the Testwood Lakes office door.

Friday the 21st and I took the chance of the dry weather to strim the line for the electric fencing in Ashley Meadow, this will be going back in again soon, ahead of the cows arrival. While strimming I managed to avoid cutting a couple of southern marsh orchids, so was keeping a keen eye out for more. Further on I stopped dead in my tracks in confusion and a little bit of disbelief, right in front of me was a pyramidal orchid! I even sent Bob a photo to check I wasn’t going completely mad! An orchid generally associated with dry habitats and doesn’t appear to have been recorded at Fishlake Meadows before. I think its most likely a result of the dry summer last year that’s its had a chance to thrive.

Pyramidal orchid

Pyramidal orchid in flower in Ashley Meadow.

Pyramidal orchid 2

Close up of pyramidal orchid.

Saturday, day 22 I was at a friends wedding, in the grounds of her uncles property, Ashe Park. Its just outside of Basingstoke and has a huge amount of land around it. I was impressed with their wildlife pond that had lots of yellow flag iris around it. I was also impressed that they don’t seem to do too much “tidying”, there were many mature trees, including some dead ones left to decay, and a huge area of grassland just being left to do its thing. A good variety of grasses and flowers were growing through the area.

Ashe park grassland

Grassland at Ashe Park.

Day 23 I was at home and didn’t manage to venture very far, so posted a picture from a few days before from Fishlake Meadows. Along the side of the permissive path there was a flower I wasn’t familiar with looking fresh and beautiful. I took some photos, had a close look and then tried to identify it later. Other than knowing it was a member of the dead nettle family, thanks to it’s square stem and overall look, I couldn’t settle on an ID. I got in touch with the wonderful botanist Bob Page for help, he came back very quickly with “marsh woundwort”. It’s a flower I don’t think I’ve seen before, but will hopefully be able to remember it now.

Marsh woundwort

Marsh woundwort with beautiful patterns to the flowers.

I can’t believe that we’re nearly at the end of 30 days wild already! I’ve really enjoyed taking my time whilst out on our nature reserves and in my garden at home to really slow down and look at what’s around me. My job as a Reserves Officer is often busy and hectic, so it doesn’t always feel like I can slow down, 30 days wild is a great excuse to do just that.

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1 thought on “3 weeks of wildness

  1. You would have expected the Peacock Butterfly caterpillars to be somewhat more beautiful than they are considering what they turn into! I love your 30 Days Wild, and have been trying to do my own, inbetween working away. It has been a struggle because of that and because of the weather at times but it has had the effect of making me look at things I wouldn’t normally look closely at. Thank you. Loving it!

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