Cutting, Pulling and Copper-coloured butterflies

Thursday, July 26th 2018

Continuing on from yesterday's reed cutting we worked further up the boardwalk on the Scrapes and finished cutting and dragging from Net Ride 36.

After finishing off the last Net Ride in need of cutting this week before CES 9 on Sunday we cleared the path round the back of the reed bed in the baking hot sun, taking regular breaks in the shadows of the nearby trees.

Today was all about tidying up and finishing jobs off before the end of the week, so next we headed over to the Hay Meadow to remove the last of the thistles in preparation for the hay cut next week (weather permitting). It doesn't take long to realise just how spikey Marsh Thistles are, with a fair proportion of their fine needles making their way through thick leather gloves with ease!

It was great to see an abundance of Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) butterflies up on the Hay Meadow, although this wasn't altogether surprising given that this elegant little butterfly's prefered habitats are unimproved grasslands, heathland, woodland clearings and moorland (things that we have in abundance here at Foxglove). 

The Small Copper caterpillar's main foodplants are Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa), Sheep's Sorrel (R. acetosella), and Broad-leaved Dock (R. obtusifolius); with males of the species being very territorial, often basking on bare ground (like the one above) in wait for passing females. Indeed, the males can be very aggressive towards any passing insect, and will chase them away before returning to the same spot.

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