We continued with our programme of cutting and raking off the grass in the meadow areas and rides which will encourage the growth of other plants. The yellow rattle that was spread about as seed last year has been successful and there are now several patches of it in Malster’s Little Field and Grove Piece. Yellow rattle should help to reduce the grass and that will leave space for other plants to flourish. The ragged robin plants raised from local seed and planted in some of the damper areas also bloomed well and they will hopefully have seeded themselves to increase the number of plants next year. We hope the piles of cut grass will invite grass snakes and others to live in the area.
The central ride that crosses Grove Piece had a wonderful display of vetch, birds foot trefoil, marsh thistle and other plants from seeds in the green hay collected in Reydon Wood the previous year and spread in Grove Piece. Since we first started working in Grove Piece in 2017 we have been steadily adding to the lists of flora and fauna to be found there. In July this year we ran a Bioblitz and picnic for the Friends of Blyth Woods. This was an enjoyable social event, and also added a variety of species to the lists. The day started well with a first record for Grove Woods, an Essex Skipper butterfly that managed to get itself caught under the gazebo as it was being erected! Other notable records included 12 species of butterflies, two species of pond snails and an unusual alga, Fragile Stonewort (Chara globularis). The stoneworts are a group of algae that get their name because most of them build an external skeleton from calcium carbonate. Fragile Stonewort is known from only a handful of other sites in Suffolk, including ponds at Broad Oak farm in Bramfield. The stonewort in the Malster’s pond was first noticed by botanist Dorothy Casey when she carried out a plant survey in Grove Woods which added more plants to our records, including a several new grasses.
The school tree nursery was in need of repair so we approached Kings Landscaping in Halesworth and they kindly donated bark for the tree nursery paths and sold us the other materials at a reduced price. The school now has three new beds and the fourth will be completed when we have taken out the young trees for planting with the top class in December. There was more bark than we needed for that job so we used the rest to make a bark area in Vicarage Grove where we hope fungi may grow. So far this year it has been too dry for lots of fungi.
After bark spreading we were treated to watching Alan ring three barn owl chicks. The barn owl box we erected in Grove Woods obviously suited them very well.
Alan Miller once again carried out a Breeding Bird survey in Grove Woods, click here to see the detailed results.