Butterfly rescue

At this time of year, if you find a butterfly fluttering on the inside of your window, it will probably be either a peacock (Aglais io) or a small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae). It will have come in during the autumn looking for a cool, dark and sheltered place to overwinter and the gap behind the wardrobe in your bedroom must have seemed just right.

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Fact of the week

According to the sort of scientists that count things, there is only one mammal in the UK more numerous than we humans: Microtus agrestis, the field vole. The latest estimates put the field vole’s population at 75 million while our own is only 67 million.

Header image: field vole by Sam McMillan (CC BY-NC 2.0) flickr.com

Bag it and bin it

To make it easier for you to access the reserve’s litter bins, we have laid flagstones through the muddy approaches that inevitably grow around the bins once the wet winter weather has set in.

Dog faeces on the reserve’s paths are unpleasant and unsightly; in the fields they are a source of infection for the animals that will eat next summer’s hay; everywhere and anywhere, they are a danger to the health of our visitors, their children and their pets. Bag it and bin it, please.

Thank you

Lambrok wetland areas

Clive Knight has sent in pictures of the wetland scrapes in Lambrok Meadow. Now that the rain has refilled Lambrok Stream and spilled into the scrapes, we can see how they are intended to develop.

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Fact of the week

In Britain we have two native species of oak which look very similar. This is how to tell them apart: pedunculate oaks (Quercus robur) produce acorns which hang on a stalk or peduncle while the acorns of the sessile oak (Quercus petraea) are stalkless.

Left: sessile oak; right: pedunculate oak. Header image: the oak by the bridge between Sleepers and Cornfield photographed by Ian Bushell

Native reptiles

There are six species of native British reptiles and three of them are resident in the reserve: we have European adders (Vipera berus), grass snakes (Natrix natrix), and slow worms (Anguis fragilis).

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Fly agaric again

This is fly agaric, a mycorrhizal fungus, Amanita muscaria, which is found in the reserve every year despite our lack of its preferred partners: birch and pine trees. In classic pictures of this red and white fungus, those that don’t have an elf sitting on top are usually growing picturesquely in the moss under a birch tree.

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Fact of the week

There is no scientific distinction between frogs and toads. They all belong to the order Anura and most anurans are commonly referred to as one or the other – which is why we try to use scientific names when we can.

Broad buckler-fern

Here is another of the plants first identified in the reserve by County Recorder Richard Aisbitt when he visited us this summer: broad buckler-fern, Dryopteris dilatata.

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Fly agaric

Clive Knight’s yearly search among the reserve’s fungi has turned up fly agaric, the classic spotted toadstool from our fairy tales. Here is a gallery of some of the pictures of Amanita muscaria we have been sent over the years.

Header image by Clive Knight

Fact of the week

Like all winged Hymenoptera, honey bees have two sets of wings: a larger outer pair and a smaller inner pair. When the bee is flying, the large wing and the small one are hooked together with Velcro-like teeth called hamuli. At rest, the wings are unhooked for easy storage, the outer wing folding over the inner one.

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