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Winter

Flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings come onto the reserve in search of food, which is often in short supply and the birds will generally find more plentiful food in gardens. The reserve becomes a much quieter place, especially when frost and snow arrive.     

Autumn

Common Heather turns some areas of the reserve purple in September. The migrant birds leave for warmer climes, but flocks of Starlings and Goldfinches can be seen. The leaves of the birch trees turn gold and get blown around in the autumn westerly winds. Few butterflies are to be seen beyond the end of September.

The reserve is a good site for many species of fungi. Look out for the Fly Agaric with red and white caps, but don’t try to eat it as it is poisonous. 

Spring

The first butterflies to be seen on the wing are those that have survived the winter, including Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Brimstone. Sometimes they can be seen on a sunny day as early as February. The first butterflies to emerge from their chrysalis, however, are Orange-tip and Holly Blue, both of which only occur in small numbers on the reserve. Later in the spring Common Blue butterflies emerge – they and the Holly Blue have two generations a year – as well as Small Heath, which populate the grasslands in large numbers, and Small Copper.

Silver-studded Blue caterpillars, which are green with a black stripe along its back, usually hatch in April/May and can be seen attended by ants if you are very observant.

March also sees the start of the arrival of migrant birds from overseas. One of the first to arrive here is the Chiff-chaff, which derives its name from its two-note song. Other migrants such as Willow Warbler and Common Whitethroat arrive soon after. Wheatear may be seen as they pass through, but they don’t breed here. Resident songbirds which are common in gardens can also be heard as the males sing to attract a female, as well as less common species such as Yellowhammer and Linnet.

April is a good month to spot Common Lizards as they move around the reserve to find a mate.

Summer

 The middle of June is the usual time for the Silver-studded Blues to start to emerge. At this time an experienced eye is needed to ensure they are not confused with the Common Blue. Look for them around any of the heathery areas, or in nearby grasslands. For the first hour or so after emergence the butterfly remains motionless on a stem of vegetation as it pumps up its wings, and ants continue to protect it in return for fluids from the butterfly’s body and face, until it is ready to fly off and find a mate.

Other butterflies to be seen in summer are Small Copper, Small Heath, Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper as well as the Whites. New generations of Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Comma and Painted Lady appear. Speckled Wood can be seen in some the wooded areas of the reserve, and occasionally a Wall near some of the bare, stony ground. Purple Hairstreaks can usually be seen around some of the oak trees, many of which are quite small and offer good opportunities for the photographer as the butterflies will come down from the canopy onto lower branches. Treble-bar moths fly around the grassy areas in the daytime, as well as the red and black Cinnabar and Burnet moths. Burnets have red spots whilst the Cinnabar has a red stripe.

A variety of wildflowers colour the reserve. One of the reserve’s specialities, as it is the only confirmed site in the county for this species, is Heath Dog-violet, the pale blue flowers of which can be seen in some of the grassy areas. Bell Heather with its crimson bells starts to flower in June and the flowers of Bird’s-foot Trefoil provide a yellow carpet in some of the grasslands. The tiny flowers of some typical acid grassland species such as Sheep’s-bit, Shepherd’s Cress and Bird’s-foot appear. Later in the summer the yellow flowers of St John’s Wort and the pink flowers of Common Centaury can be seen.

In the pond a number of damselfly and dragonfly species breed, including Emperor Dragonfly, Southern Hawker Dragonfly and Large Red Damselfly. The pond provides good feeding opportunities for Swallows, Martins and Swifts which pick off insects just above or on the surface of the water. Newts breed in the pond.

Overhead the song of the Skylark, an emblem of lowland heath, is often to be heard as it flutters many feet above the ground, mainly on warmer and sunnier days.

Foxes, stoats and an abundance of rabbits populate the reserve. If you are very lucky you may see a stoat take a rabbit.