A Walk in Kingley Vale
Kingley vale reserve is a mixture of ancient Yew woodland and lowland grassland habitats, an amazing place for spotting a range of exciting critters that you may not see in such abundance elsewhere. Its historical past really is one to marvel, with bronze age burial mounds surrounding the site.
The Yew trees really are something else! Their winding, twisting, evergreen branches make up the canopy of the woodland, creating a mysterious, magical environment that is home to a whole range of shade favouring insects like woodlice, millipedes and many more. In the canopy, out of sight, the green woodpecker resides; its loud, unmistakable laugh (known as a ‘yaffle’) echoing throughout the wood.
Down in the chalk grasslands, the diversity of flora is truly spectacular. The grassland is home to a huge variety of species, one of these being the yellow ant. They create small mounds in the soil that become encased in beautiful flowers and herbs, the roots of which are food for the aphids that the ants keep, which in turn produce a sweet substance for the ants to feed on. The flora that covers these mounds are great for an array of bees that feed on the delicious nectar, along with other pollinators like these butterflies, the High brown fritillary (left) and the Meadow Brown (right).
Upon looking closer at some ragwort I spotted a bunch of beautiful Cinnabar moth caterpillars munching away at the leaves. They were unfazed by the bitter, toxic nature of the plant, of which they experience no harm or ill effect. Their distinctive black and orange stripes make them easily identifiable and beautiful to photograph!
The insects that live in the chalk grasslands are food for many of the bird species that live there too; The beautiful yellow hammer is one of these birds. A strikingly bright yellow male singing loudly atop a tree is an amazing sight, one I managed to capture with my camera upon my visit.