Report from Wapley Wander 3 July 2011

Part of the group looking at the flora in the Top Meadow

An enthusiastic group of walkers met yesterday afternoon for a tour of the Nature Reserve. The meadows were full of wild flowers and butterflies – if you haven’t visited them lately, catch them now before the flowers set seed and the meadows are mown shortly. There are over 70 wildflower and grass species present in the rich Lower Meadow including many species that are beneficial for insects, including black knapweed, devil’s bit scabious and betony. We saw one species of orchid on the day, te common spotted orchid, but we know that there are others which have already gone over. The Top Meadow also had a great collection of grasshoppers and crickets – as we walked through the grass they would explode away from where we were about to tread.

The main Wapley Wood has just been declared an Ancient Woodland by English Nature, meaning that it’s over 400 years old, so we talked about the traditional woodland management techniques that we still use today, such as hedgelaying, coppicing and dead-hedging. We also explored the importance of drainage – our ditches and the underground stream – and historic concepts such as the bank and ditch system, and people being able to take wood “by hook or by crook”.

We showed off our big projects from the past year, as mentioned previously on this blog – the new path up the Ride, the hedgelaying in the Lower Meadow, and the Orchard for the Future on the Common. We also mentioned our long-term planning and some ideas we have for improving habitat to attract owls.

Thanks to everybody who came. Please follow the links above to find out more about what we’ve been doing on the Reserve.

Burnet moths doing what comes naturally on the Common

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