Ecological

A Virtual Tour of a Mixed Habitat including Limestone Pavement and Flower Grassland.

Welcome to you all on this sunny day.

This habitat packs a huge emotional punch. We have around 100 acres of countryside: I hope we’ll feel physically caught up in the drama during our tour. Everything appears fresh and vibrant as if on the first day of creation. Listen. Did you hear the song thrush? It sings in triplets. Look: here below you can see the silvery track of a snail. Smell: that’s honeysuckle of course. We can truly appreciate the web of life here today.

The blue tit chicks are only a day old. They’ll need a hundred thousand caterpillars each day; the caterpillars need the bedstraw and clover to munch and the bedstraw and clover need the sun and nutrients in the soil. All is connected, including us. Where would we be without the bee? Oh! Here’s a sparrow-hawk: that’s goodbye to one of the blue tit parents. Isn’t it a privilege to see birth and death in front of our very eyes.

Lets zoom in for a close up of that piece of turf (yes, it’s rather like Durer’s drawing isn’t it!). Some of you children should be able to see the tiny ants scurrying up and down stalks of grass. Hear that? It’s not a bee; it’s a master of disguise called a Bee Fly, or Bombylius Major strictly speaking. That’s a name to conjure with and a headline to end all headlines isn’t it.

Now if we fast forward a good few decades, what do we notice? No, I don’t want you to be alarmed; I’m not like Greta! Just observe. Note the temperature. Yes, just a three degree increase. Where are the birds? Mostly gone. No caterpillars. But there are some daisies and dandelions growing in the hardened chalk soil, so not all is lost. Listen. No songs or calls. It’s just distant traffic.

Let’s do a casualty count: the warmer wetter winters have killed off the caterpillars of the Garden Tiger moth. So, we can declare that species extinct. The September Thorn is a thorn in the flesh and the Figure of Eight has us tied up in knots. The Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, so profuse here before, is no where to be seen. The Autumnal Moth has fallen victim too but let’s hope it’s clinging on out there in someone’s organic garden. That’s not counting the birds of course.

That’s the end of our virtual tour for today. Please bear with us during the next few weeks; we are experiencing problems with air conditioning which may effect future tours. Please check the website for latest developments. Tours may not be as advertised.

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