Arguably the most beautiful month of the year, we are spoilt for choice in May when deciding where to go and enjoy nature.
In the early part of the month woodland flowers are superb. All of the Trust's woods are different, so that, for example, Wood Forget-me-nots form lovely sky-blue carpets in coppiced areas in Prior’s Coppice, but are absent from Cloud Wood. The latter, however, has huge numbers of Early-purple Orchids, which are much less common in Prior’s.
May is also the time to see Green-winged Orchids and thousands of Cowslips at both Cribb’s and Merry’s Meadows.
Brown’s Hill Quarry, one of the Holwell Nature Reserves, holds our largest colony of the Dingy Skipper butterfly, which flies this month. If you are lucky, and with good weather, you can see the small and well-camouflaged Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper butterflies at Ketton Quarry and Bloody Oaks Quarry.
Dingy Skipper lays its eggs mainly on Bird’s-foot-trefoil; Grizzled Skipper mainly on wild strawberry but also on a few other plants. Both are uncommon species.
Wetland sites such as Rutland Water and Cossington Meadows are places to see migrant birds in their fresh breeding plumage.
Species of the month: Cowslip
The Cowslip Primula veris is an early spring flower and a cousin of the primrose.
Formerly a common plant of traditional meadows, ancient woodlands and hedgerows, the loss of these habitats to the advancement of agriculture caused a serious decline in populations. Nowadays fields coloured bright yellow with the nodding heads of Cowslips are a rare sight.
The Cowslip has rosettes of green, crinkly, tongue-like leaves low to the ground. Tube-like, egg-yolk yellow flowers are clustered together at the top of green stems up to 25cm tall.
To see this bright and lovely flower why not visit Merry’s Meadows and Cribb’s Meadow? Check your Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves Guide (available to members) or the Nature Reserves section of this website for more information.
Photograph: Cowslip (Zsuzsanna Bird)
Related categories: General