Little Baddow

 

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Nature Notes: Reports, observations and images of wildlife in Little Baddow.

From Helen Harwicke, October 2018

As we returned from walking our dog on the Heather Hills I noticed a good deal of insect activity around one of the crab apple trees. This is usually a mass of blossom in the spring but has suffered in this year’s drought and did not seem to have much fruit. However, on closer inspection there are a few apples and a number of insects were hunting around it - various flies and wasps and bees and larger hornets which had attracted my attention. 

The tree was in a patch of sunlight and I soon noticed 2-3 speckled wood butterflies dancing backward and forward between the bracken and the tree. I have watched hornets catch butterflies before, taking them to the ground with their superior weight, neatly cutting off the wings and departing with the carcass. I hoped they would not catch the little butterflies and a week later was pleased to notice on a similarly warm day they were still there. There are still dragonflies about and a muntjac was sauntering over the field, not much perturbed by us and happily not spotted by the dog – who gets very excited when she scents one. Squirrels go up the nearest tree, rabbits down a hole but muntjac make a bee-line for Danbury so you need a well trained dog for recall to work! 

So often we walk and do not pause to look – so many people spend hours sweeping leaves at this time of year but I have at least one acquaintance who visits Danbury at this time of year to relive childhood memories of scuffing through the leaves in her boots – simple pleasures – do our children /grandchildren get the chance?  Amber and I look for the badger’s sett and she hopes to find a bear though I tell her it is a long time since one lived here!

“Danbury Ridge Living Landscape” Butterfly Survey Results

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Last year Essex Wildlife Trust’s “Danbury Ridge Living Landscape” initiative in partnership with Essex County Council, The British Naturalists’ Association, The National Trust, both Little Baddow and Danbury Parish Councils and others carried out a survey of the number of species of butterflies in Little Baddow and Danbury.
Butterflies are important indicators of the health of the environment.  They are pollinators of plants and form part of the food chain.  Worryingly three quarters of British butterflies are in decline and a few have already declined to such an extent that they are no longer present in Britain.
Although there are over 2,500 different species of moths in Britain there are only 59 species of butterflies including three migrant butterflies.  Each species is present only in certain habitats ranging from the shoreline to hill tops and some only appear for as little as four weeks in the year.
Over the period surveyed  there were many sightings of the common butterflies such as Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood and both Small and Large Whites.   All three migrant species were recorded most notably Painted Lady butterflies which originate from the Atlas Mountains in North Africa and the not often seen Clouded Yellow.
Possibly the most exciting finds were a few Silver-washed Fritillaries and both White-letter Hairstreaks and Purple Hairstreaks which spend most of their time at the tops of trees.  The star of the show was however the sighting of the elusive Purple Emperor.
In total 27 different species of butterflies were recorded which is a remarkable number for such a small area and represents nearly half of all of the species present in Britain.

John McCrindle