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A Butterfly Walk on the afternoon of the 2nd revealed more Butterflies than during June but numbers are extremely, and worryingly, low compared to other years. Species spotted included Small and Large Skippers, Marbled Whites, Ringlet, Meadow Browns and one Gatekeeper. We also saw a few Six Spot Burnet Moths and their cocoons on the grass stems and several half-grown Great Green Bush Crickets and a few Grasshoppers. The Forage Rape was bright yellow in full flower in the winter bird food crop and Cornflower and Corn Camomile are beginning to flower in the nectar strip. As we walked down the Long Path we heard a lot of buzzing and saw Bee’s disappearing into the soil at the base of the Forage Rape and Oats.

Volunteers joined Harry on the 3rd (Steve and Penny) and the 5th (Ian and Jane) for a morning of Bracken Bashing. This weakens the rhizomes and reduces the spread. On a lunch time walk on the 5th a Hobby was seen hunting over the top of the Main Field. Slowworms under one sheet of corrugated and a Field Vole nest under the other. House Martins joined the Swallows hunting over the top of the Main Field on the 7th most noticeable because of their calls and feeding their young on the wing. Slender Mullein, Musk Mallow, Musk Thistle, Chicory, Oxeye Daisy, Birdsfoot Trefoil and White Campion  flowers can all be seen dotted among the rough grass in the old winter bird crop area. Unfortunately in this years winter bird food crop the 12kg of Sunflower Seeds we planted have produced very few plants.

On the 8th Harry started strimming around the bird crop as the grass was shorting out the electric fence, he finished it on the 9th after a morning bashing Bracken in North Park with volunteer Ian and they started on the largest patch on the roadside edge. In Corner Wood, one of the three boxes erected for Daubenton’s Bats had fallen down on and was found on the path on the 10th, no sign of use.

More bracken bashing with volunteer Tim on the 11th, again on the on the roadside edge. There were more Butterflies around on the 12th but still significantly less than previous years.

The rain during the first two weeks of the month seems to have responsible for disappearance of the Bees we were seeing going into the soil at the base of the Forage Rape and Oats. As with the Butterflies there are far few this year. On the 16th we noticed that the Spear Thistles, now in full flower, and which would normally be covered in pollinators when the sun shone, had absolutely no visiting Bees or Butterflies.

By the 17th, one of the few (7) days of the month with no rain, we had had 103.4mm rain, the average here for July is 72.6mm, so this is more 42% more than our usual monthly total so far. The mean temperature so far this month is 14.2°C whereas our average is 16.45°C so we are more than 2°C cooler than usual as well.

The good news is the grassland is teaming with Grasshoppers, and Crickets can be heard chirring amongst the grass and flowering plants. We have Hedge Bedstraw, Common Marsh Bedstraw, Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), Musk Mallow, Chicory, Birdsfoot Trefoil and Yarrow (Achillea), amongst others, in full flower now. The winter birdfood crop is yellow with the Forage Rape and the Oats seem to be doing well too.