May 2018

Posted 1st May 2018

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 as they lay their eggs on wild strawberry near the reserve entrances. 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:  Grizzled Skipper butterfly

The Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae can be found throughout England and Wales, but is becoming increasingly rare. Last year was the worst year on record for the grizzled skipper butterfly, down 9% compared to 2016 and its population has more than halved since the 1970s.

A small, low-flying springtime butterfly its wings are black or dark brown, with a checkerboard of white spots. 

Its rapid, darting style of flight make it difficult to follow, but it stops regularly to perch on a prominent leaf, bask in the sun on bare ground for long stretches, or to feed on flowers such as Common Bird's-foot-trefoil or Bugle.

Habitats favoured by this butterfly include woodland rides, glades, and clearings; unimproved grassland; disused mineral workings, spoil heaps, and old railway lines.

Photograph: c. Andrew Kerr

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