Island Life Magazine Ltd February/March 2007 - Page 47

WILDLIFE For a Wild Valentine’s gift why not join us today… Nightingale by Brenda Palmer Ningwood Common is a remnant of what was at one time a larger area of open heathland. The heathland was originally grazed by local livestock, which would have included a mix of cattle, sheep, goats and any other beasts that the residents owned and ran freely on the common. This grazing would have kept the land open with patches of scattered scrub, so forming a dynamic mosaic of habitats supporting a wide range of flora and fauna. At one time heathlands supported a whole way of life. People made a living from managing the scrub, from collecting medicinal plants and from cutting gorse for fuel especially for bread ovens and stock fodder. Nowadays the land around the site is incorporated into housing and large gardens, improved hay fields and forestry. The community of Cranmore is in a quiet area of the Island down a rough track off the main Yarmouth to Newport road, which means the area is relatively undeveloped. For visitors there are good links to the long distance paths passing the reserve, while the permissive circular route forms a welcome diversion off the rough track. This path forms a loop through oak and ash woodland, then through the edge of blackthorn and hawthorn, alder buckthorn scrub, and back into the edge of mature oak woodland, passing old clay pit ponds under the oaks. For a map and more information about the reserve and the work of the Wildlife Trust on the Island, visit At Ningwood, it‘s down to the commitment of a handful of volunteers and a few hardy cattle. But as the scrub clears and the reddish buff moth continues to survive, the benefits will clearly be worth all the hard work. The work at Ningwood Common has been supported by the Daise Rich Trust and the Hilton Cheek Trust. Sawwort The sole food plant of the reddish buff grows in warm sunny areas and is abundant on the heath. Its fine lamina leaves are a useful indicator that the micro climate is likely to be suitable for the moth to lay its eggs. (1) Nightingale This shy bird can be heard singing from the depths of the densest scrub both day and night. It prefers low dense scrub to nest in alongside open areas of short sward for foraging. Which is why at Ningwood staff and volunteers work hard to manage the scrub correctly rather than just clear it wholesale. (2) …and give the benefits of being a member of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to your loved one. For more information contact our membership team on 01489 774 408. • Unlimited FREE visits to over 60 wildlife reserves in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and 2,500 reserves nationwide • A welcome pack when you join • Hampshire and Isle of Wight Natural World, the Wildlife Trust’s - life magazine, delivered to you (or your partner) three times a year • The chance to take part in local group and community activities… offering you a variety of opportunities to be involved in more than 350 walks, talks and events throughout the two counties • Join by Direct Debit and receive your FREE full colour Local Wildlife Reserve Guide Phone us now on 01489 774408 For more information, contact the Wildlife Trust: web: - email: post: The Forest Office, Parkhurst Forest, Forest Road, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1SS tel/fax: 01983 533 180 Site of Special Scientific Interest designated a moth – the reddish buff. (4) Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary Cranmore is also the only site on the Isle of Wight for this butterfly. The favoured food plant of the larva is common dog-violet. Interestingly, it prefers to lay its eggs on larger leaves than the closely related pearl bordered fritillary, which prefers smaller leaves. (5) Silver Washed Fritillary A butterfly strongly associated with open broad-leaved woodland. Interestingly, the eggs are laid on tree trunks well away from the violets that are its food plant. The tiny caterpillars crawl down to the woodland floor to find their first meal. (6) The scrub The scrub is made up of a variety of young and bushy trees, many of which are low and thorny with an edge of grasses and herbaceous plants. This provides good cover for nesting birds until the plants mature and become ‘leggy’ and bare. (3) Reddish Buff Cranmore (the area in which Ningwood is located) is the only Reddish Buff Moth by Tim Norris Your local Wildlife Trust - The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust works to create a better future for wildlife and wild places in Hampshire and the Island. As the leading local wildlife conservation charity, it looks after 61 wildlife reserves, has 27,000 members and 1,000 volunteers. The Trust manages its own land and advises other landowners how to manage their land with wildlife in mind. Staff and volunteers also carry out surveys and gather data to monitor how our local wildlife is doing. Find out more at Island Life -