Barbecues and Butterflies

The woods have seen a busy few weeks, with our first camping event for friends, together with a camp fire and barbecue, as well as a lot of activity on the wildlife front.

This has really been our first opportunity to enjoy the woods with a group of friends in such a hospitable way. A whole bunch of folks drawn together by the common interest of keeping chickens, we all assembled at the woods, with tents, chairs, and contributions of food. Pretty soon the woods were alive with the sound of chatter, laughter, and the weather held up extremely well, allowing us to enjoy both the campfire and barbecue. Sharing the woods with our friends is extremely important to us, and this really brought the wood alive. Everybody appreciated and respected the wildlife, and despite 28 visitors with 18 camping, there was very little disturbance. The evening was spent cooking damper on the camp-fire, talking, laughing, drinking wine and enjoying the appearance of common pipistrelle and noctule bats. Brilliant.

But people have not been the only species in abundance at the woods this month. We have seen the emergence of many dragonflies, including the brown hawker, emerald damselfly and common darter. In addition, the butterflies have been emerging in numbers, enjoying the meadow area along with hoverflies, scorpion flies (pictured) and an abundance of other insects. We have in particular been really pleased to see more common blue butterflies there this year, thanks to planting more of their caterpillar foodplants, as well as green-veined whites, large and small skippers, meadow browns, ringlets and gatekeepers, peacocks, red admirals and comma butterflies. As well, of course, as the wonderful purple hairstreaks that live in the oak canopy.

As well as insects, the lower coppice, and all our newly-planted trees, are growing extremely well – the willow in the coppice is nearly 6 feet high! We will have some stems for making baskets in the winter, as well as plenty for development into poles for sustainable harvesting. The rain has been very welcome although our meadows are still pretty dry!

We have an open day planned for tomorrow, and another on 22nd August, when we hope to have a demonstration of hawking and of the skills of trained working dogs. Barbecues and butterflies – July has been a good month for Alvecote Wood.

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