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Friday, July 9, 2010

Wed 7th July 2010 - Brading Down.

A return visit to Brading Down, but this time on Upper Adgestone, which is designated a “Quiet Road”, and helping the rangers Nick and Richard with a variety of tasks. The first was to continue in the opposite direction from last week, to finish the area designated for ragwort pulling. The path leading down to the road needed some pruning, as did the paths within the Butterfly Walk further along. Work was also required to re-build some new steps down the path to the road, and there was also a ton of limestone chippings ready and waiting to be transported down the quite steep hill by barrow and bucket, to effect repairs to the remainder of the steps. This certainly is a beautiful area for butterflies, moths and wildflowers, and certainly well worth a walk with your camera.

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

Lots of finds again this week -

Agrimony (Agrimonia), growing to between 0.5-2m tall with interrupted pinnate leaves and tiny yellow flowers borne on a single (usually unbranched) spike. It has a long history of medicinal uses, including a treatment for eye ailments and a brew to cure diarrhoea and disorders of the gall bladder, liver and kidneys. The Anglo-Saxons made a solution from the leaves and seeds for healing wounds, and this continued through the Middle Ages and beyond in a preparation called “eau d’arquebusade” or “musket shot water”.

Small Scabious (Scabiosa Columbaria) - this chalk and limestone grassland perennial produces a mass of lilac-blue flowers from July to September, in round heads on long stalks. The narrow stem leaves are grey-green, pinnate and downy, with flowerheads developing into a conical fruiting head in autumn. It is attractive to bees, and butterflies such as the Meadow Brown and Small Skipper.

White Melilot (Melilotus Albus), a member of the pea family with small, white, fragrant flowers on stems 3 to 10 feet tall. Its preferred habitat is wastelands and roadsides, with a flowering season of June to November.

Common Restharrow (Onomis Repens) - this robust, native, creeping, hairy perennial has small, pink pea-like flowers in the leaf axils throughout the summer. The root network of restharrow is both dense and tough, and this accounts for its common name. In the days of horse-drawn cultivation, the roots of this plant would, quite literally, ‘arrest’ the progress of the plough. It flowers from June to September, attracting wildlife such as the Common Blue butterfly and Goldfinches.

Six-Spot Burnet(Zygaena Filipendulae) - this is the commonest of Britain’s day-flying Burnet moths, seen from June to August and occupying meadows, woodland clearings and sea-cliffs. It has blackish blue front wings with a metallic shine, and are patterned with the six red round spots that give it its name; hind wings are crimson with a very narrow dark blue/black border. Its antennae, rather unusually for a moth, are club shaped and used for feeling and smelling. All stages in the lifecycle of this moth contain cyanide in their bodies, and their bright colours protect them by warning birds and other predators they are poisonous.

Many thanks to Carrie for all the above - I just hope that I have managed to match all the photographs to the correct text....!

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