I’m a volunteer with the Vale Countryside Volunteers, this group meets every Wednesday to carry out practical conservation tasks to benefit wildlife in and around the Aylesbury Vale. Through this program I have assisted with a wide range of practical conservation tasks including scrub bashing, grassland management and tree felling along with some monitoring of reptiles, amphibians and bats. I find volunteering with this group to be very rewarding and the free cake and biscuits are an added bonus.
This week we headed on the minibus to the small village of Oving to carry out some habitat enhancement on an area previously used for grazing 20 years ago, specifically aiming to improve the area for butterflies. The site is quite small however its steep banks trap heat and have attracted a wide range of butterfly species (According to my list c20 species can be seen throughout the year on site). I found it hard to believe that this site would have been a monoculture of grasses just 20 years ago and I’m pleased that the farmer decided to allow this area (which is rather steep for agriculture) to be managed for butterflies by two local villagers.
The original idea for the site was to manage it like a traditional hay meadow and cut it once a year however it was decided that it would be better for butterflies if a mosaic of sward heights could be created. As you can imagine this means a lot more work has to be carried out in order to keep some areas really short and allow other areas to grow longer. As the site is very steep most of it can’t be cut by mowers to has to be cut by hand, which is where we came in…
Some areas were overgrown with grass which swamps out wildflowers so this needed to be cut.