Wildlife in the Country park
The fields are now mown annually, often in June, and the cuttings are removed which allows wildflowers to grow. Although some of the wildflowers have retreated to the margins, there are still many vivid displays of colour throughout the year. First to flower are the meadow and creeping buttercups which turn the fields yellow in May. When the buttercups fade the vetches bloom. Common, bush and tufted vetch dot the field with purple clumps along with yellow meadow vetchling and the less common grass vetchling. More commonplace wildflowers include daisies, hogweed and great willow herb. Along the edges of the fields at the bottom knapweed, ragwort, yellow hawkweeds and teasels grow.
The land has changed here over the years but it still creates a complex eco-system that provides habitat, food and shelter for the wildlife in our town. It offers us a green space in which to appreciate nature and restore our own well-being. This is what we’re fighting to protect. Let’s help save our Country park together.
The land around Brynards Hill was originally used for pasture and grazing for cattle and sheep up until about 2000. As animals graze they can open up gaps in the soil and remove excess vegetation to give wildflowers and other plants the space they need to grow. The farmer then used to cut the grass at the beginning of August which allowed the seeds to drop and reseed for the following year. This sort of management creates the type of species rich, wildflower meadows that were common through the U.K. Since the 1930s we’ve lost about 97% of our wildflower meadows, or about 7.5 million acres.
Elm trees used to fence the edges of the fields until 1975 when they were decimated by Dutch Elm Disease which killed about 25 million trees in the U.K. alone. The elm trees at Brynards Hill were felled and replaced by hedgerows of blackthorn and hawthorn. These hedges along with oak, field maple, ash and willow trees support many species of birds. These include magpies, wood pigeons, blackbirds, robins, chaffinches, bullfinches, greenfinches, great, blue and long-tailed tits, sparrows and starlings. Greater spotted woodpeckers can be heard hammering away on dead trees whilst red kites soar overhead. Kestrels and buzzards hunt for voles and shrews in the fields. In the summer whitethroats can be seen perched on the remains of the fencing posts. In the winter redwings and fieldfares survive on the berries from the hedges.
These flowers and plants provide food and homes for insects, including butterflies and moths. Look out for coppers feeding from the ragwort, and meadow browns, gatekeepers, ringlets and commas amongst the bramble in the hedges. Yellow brimstones and small, large and green veined whites are often seen flitting around. Some years common blues, speckled woods, peacocks and red admirals can also be spotted. These insects in turn provide a food source for small mammals, reptiles and birds.
Six spot burnett moth
Forester moth on ragged robin
Marbled white butterfly