Another New Butterfly

The Brown Argus Aricia agestis is another new butterfly that Trust members have found in Ox Close Wood and in fields in East Keswick. This is great news – showing that the management of our reserves is being rewarded with these successes (see Silver-washed Fritillary, below). The caterpillers’ foodplant is usually Common Rock Rose but more recently they have started to use various geraniums, including Meadow Cranesbill, of which there is plenty in the parish.

Brown Argus, underside
Brown Argus

Cows in Ox Close Wood

For the first time since the 18th century, cows are grazing in Ox Close Wood!

The cows will graze the paddock for a few weeks after which they will go to another reserve to continue their conservation grazing.

Once part of the Common lands of EastKeswick, Ox Close was a wood pasture where wood and timber could be cut and extracted during the winter months and animals grazed during the summer by the Commoners of the village – usually the most prominent residents. By the end of the 18th century, the management of Common lands was deemed inefficient so increasing numbers of individual parish Parliamentary Enclosure Acts were passed to provide the legal framework for privatisation. All Commoners rights to graze in Ox Close ceased at the beginning of 19th century on the enclosure of East Keswick when the wood became part of the Harewood Estate.

The photos show three cows, each with a calf being let into the  wood. Because Clarita (below) has horns, she had to be transported separated from her calf and separately from the other cows.

All six cows are in this photo!


Success at last

SUCCESS AT LAST. Brimstone butterflies are breeding.

7th-9th May 2010.  Brimstone butterflies were seen egg laying on the Alder Buckthorn. This is fantastic news. Back in January 2003, fifty Alder Buckthorn saplings were planted along the top ride in the hope of attracting Brimstone butterflies. Over the years since then, only the occasional insect has been seen.  But this weekend at least three pairs were seen – with the females egg laying. It is likely that these insects are the offspring of some that bred unseen last year. See the photo in the Butterflies gallery.