Connecting with nature

by David Feather

I wonder how many problems get solved, as visitors to the park have the chance to think more clearly, away from the pressures of modern life. Even if we do not solve problems, there is a growing body of research that has proven without a doubt that connecting with nature can improve our mental health.

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Plastic free park

The Friends have planted hundreds of trees in the reserve over the years but a new study has concluded that we should be planting our trees without plastic tree guards. Research has shown that there are significant carbon emissions from the manufacture of plastic guards, they are not always collected after use and, left in the environment, they break down into damaging microplastics.

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Acorns

Oak trees produce thousands of acorns every year. Somebody has worked out that an oak tree can produce ten million acorns over its lifetime. In a good year, they carpet the ground under the tree.

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Butterfly transect

Ian Bushell conducted a Butterfly Transect in the reserve at the weekend.

The transect route in the park samples its habitat types and management units. Butterflies are recorded in a band five metres wide along the transect. Transect walks are undertaken between 10.45am and 3.45pm and only when weather conditions are suitable for butterfly activity.

Here are the results.

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More about oak galls

This strange object is a knopper gall on an oak tree, photographed in the reserve yesterday by Ian Bushell. At this time of year, our many oak trees are sporting a whole variety of galls.

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Kestrel again

Debbie Cronnie has sent pictures of the young kestrel family that is learning to hunt in our fields at the reserve.
Thank you Debbie.

Header image by Clive Knight

White-letter hairstreak

The white-letter hairstreak, so named because the white lines on its underwing form a W, is the emblem of the Wiltshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation and is the focus of a project to return this butterfly to our countryside.

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Orchids

Why has this been such a good year for orchids?

This year, we have identified five species of native orchids in the reserve. Two of them, the common spotted orchid and the broad leaved helleborine, are old friends, but bee orchids, pyramidal orchids and southern marsh orchids also appeared for the first time in the reserve’s fields.
What makes a good year for native orchids? Here are five possible factors to take into consideration.

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Hornets

An astonishing video of European hornets in flight.

Video by nature photographer, Lothar Lenz, published by Caters Clips.

There is a hardware problem which we hope is being fixed. In the meantime, while we are learning to operate a WordPress site from a smartphone, here is a gallery of pictures taken in the reserve by the late, great DKG.

Devil’s coach horse

A Devil’s coach horse (Ocypus olens) was found and identified in Kestrel Field yesterday by Sarah Gould. Ocypus olens is a swiftly-moving ground beetle species and this one was moving so swiftly that Sarah was unable to get anything more than a blurred, but perfectly identifiable, picture which we sent to Ian for confirmation. This is a new species for the reserve’s comprehensive lists

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Picture of the week

A beautiful small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) feeding on ragwort, photographed yesterday in the reserve by Clive Knight.

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