Pulling ragwort plants out in the midday heat isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. Not least when you have to fend off the attention of horseflies and pick the odd tick off you as well. However, it does give you the opportunity to see wildlife that you might not otherwise see. Like the pair of Golden-ringed Dragonflies that was busy conducting a high octane mating dance up and down a ride in , oblivious to my presence. Suddenly the female broke away to hover above a small patch of wet ground depositing eggs with the deft touch of the most highly skilled human surgeon.
On a ragwort pulling excursion to the League’s wildlife sanctuary at Cove, my colleague Graham discovered a pair of Roe kids tucked up against a hedge. Twins are the norm in Roe Deer, whereas most other deer species give birth to single young. Roe also display embryonic diapause, or delayed implantation. This means that although they mate around the end of July, the egg doesn’t implant until the end of December and young are born in May.
There has been a good crop of wild cherries this year and the on Baronsdown have been quick to cash in. The first evidence was the appearance of fox scats filled with cherry stones deposited in various places around the wildlife sanctuary. I couldn’t help wondering how uncomfortable it must be for an animal not much larger than a domestic cat to pass a bunch of cherry stones, but I guess they must think it is worth it.
The current dry spell means hard times for mammals, such as hedgehogs and , and they must be grateful that the various springs on Baronsdown continue to flow. I am quite grateful too, as my water supply comes from these same springs. However, butterflies are thriving and, if you haven’t already done so, do spend 15 minutes counting butterflies in your garden or in your local park and send the results to the Big Butterfly Count run by Butterfly Conservation until 6th August.