Thursday 8th October 10:30am – 3:30pm
(I’m pretty sure there will be cake!)
Come and help us clear scrub on the Butterfly Banks of Westley Farm to help maintain important habitat for the rare marsh fritillary butterfly! This is one of the pickiest butterflies I have come across – it needs one specific type of scabious as its food plant. The devil’s bit scabious is also rather selective about where to grow. Thus you will not find marsh fritillaries where sheep graze (too low a sward height), where land is under-grazed (too high a sward) in fact it likes to have a mosaic of heights so that it has shelter when it is windy, but not too shady. As a result of our work with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation we are now one of only two places in Gloucestershire where this butterfly breeds!
To the left you see a nest of marsh fritillary caterpillars. They overwinter in the sward by the basal rosette of the devil’s bit scabious so that the caterpillars are close to food and can nip out and eat as soon as the weather is mild enough. They are up and flying by the end of May and have quite a short season. The marsh fritillary is not a very spectacular butterfly. But it is still important. And the more we do to make things just right for this fussy individual, the more we see of other species as well! In the summer, you will see various types of blues, skippers and fritillaries on the banks as keeping the scrub in check allows other food plants to grow like vetch for example.
What’s happening on the day?
Amy Tyrer and Eleanor Reast, in association with the Magnificent Meadows project and the Cotswolds AONB, have organised a day of scrub bashing to keep the banks of the meadow where the butterfly breeds clear and to encourage more of the food plant, devil’s bit scabious, to grow. Volunteers meet in the farm yard and walk down the very steep path to the site. Hand tools will be provided. There will be a small fire on site to burn cleared scrub. Please let Amy or Eleanor know you are coming so they can bring enough tools and arrange car shares where possible as parking spaces are limited.
These work parties are generally very good fun and we always meet such lovely people! It’s also a good way to use up some calories – like a Green Gym.
Who can come?
You do not need any previous experience or special skills to join in. The site is on a steep bank and the access path is both steep and slippery (even without rain) so you will need to be fully mobile with fairly good balance to manage! Don’t feel obliged to work the whole day – just let us know if you can only do a short while so we can meet you and show you the way. Parking is about 500m from the work site. There is a loo near the parking but no facilities on site.
What to bring:
Stout footwear, work-wear that will not restrict your movements but that will to some degree keep brambles, nettles, wind and rain from getting you. Good gardening gloves or even better gauntlets make life more comfortable.
A packed lunch and something to drink. We offer refreshments and cake at the farm at the start and at lunchtime if we need to shelter for a while.
Where is it?
Meet us in the farmyard at Westley Farm, Chalford, Stroud, GL6 8HP
Don’t trust your satnav – type Westley Farm Holiday Cottages into Google Maps