Common Wood: part 3
The work continues to encourage fritillary butterflies to breed on my patch of common land, at Common Wood, near Horndon, Dartmoor.
On 10 February 14 volunteers from the Dartmoor Preservation Association and Butterfly Conservation were back on the slopes of Common Wood. This was the third conservation day here. We had planned one last November but had to cancel because of the weather, so it was a year since the last workday (see blog).
Under the guidance of Butterfly Conservation’s enthusiastic Jenny Plackett we got going, with bowsaws and loppers, and Keith Ryan on the chainsaw.
We removed gorse, small trees and brambles and piled them to make a windrow (hedge) which was anchored with firm, straight hazel branches.
The aim is to create habitat where violets, the food of the Pearl-bordered fritillaries, will thrive under a light covering of bracken. This is a south-east facing slope with plenty of sun which makes it a lovely warm habitat for Pearl-bordered and Small Pearl-bordered fritillaries when the caterpillars emerge in the spring.
By mid afternoon we had cleared a significant area. Jenny reckons we have one more day’s work to do clearing this slope, which we hope will be in the autumn.
Some fritillaries were seen at Common Wood last year, but we have no evidence yet that they are breeding here. However, thanks to all the hard work, we are giving them a good chance.
As we were packing up I saw a woodcock flying away down the valley. A fitting end to the day.