Wildlife Field


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Centenary Mural - Simon Saville / Alan Jenkins

September gave us a spell of glorious hot weather as we settled into autumn. There is still a lot of interest in the meadow with stands of Lemon Queen being particularly impressive and the stands of Tithonia, Mexican sunflower, soon to erupt into flower.

The meadow's big event during our Centenary event was the arrival of the mural depicting the meadow's butterflies which was declared "open" by Simon Saville, Chair of Surrey/SW London Butterfly Conservation. He congratulated the artist, Alan Jenkins, who has worked on this glorious mural through three lockdowns, and it was a joy to see not only Alan and his wife Mary but three younger generations of the Jenkins family at the opening.

One of Alan's butterflies, the Brown Hairstreak, has bred in the meadow for at least three years and each winter its eggs have been found in the meadow laid on the stems of the abundant blackthorn (sloe). I had the good fortune to enjoy the sight of the adult butterflies, a colourful hairstreak was perched on a Tithonia in one of our island beds waiting patiently for some sunshine to provide the necessary warmth to allow her to get on with laying eggs for next year's butterflies. Simon and I had found six freshly laid eggs in a short search of the sloe on Bank Holiday Monday.


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Brown Hairstreak

The other butterfly worthy of mention is the Marbled White. A small number were collected from Hutchinsons Bank nature reserve, New Addington, in 2017 and 2018 and introduced into our meadow. One reason behind this introduction was the abundance in our meadow of red fescue grass upon which she deposits her eggs. The following two years a small number of Marbled Whites were seen but this year a goodly number were seen during much of July which confirmed a successful introduction - not always the case.

In addition to Lemon Queen, salvias, sedums, and Michaelmas daisies will continue to provide colour and interest (and nectar) through September and October and the hedge will be alive with flowering ivy, much loved by autumnal butterflies and other insects.


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Marbled White

October marks the start of the annual meadow cut when the whole meadow will be hard cut and, as if by magic, eighty or so ant hills will reappear. The November rake and clearance of the cut material - quite a task as several of you know - will mark the end of our Wednesday sessions and herald a three-month break until early March.

So, still a lot to look forward to before we put 2021 to bed.

Warm best wishes to you all,

Malcolm