mudchute-9785

Across Mudchute, we try to encourage and support our local wildlife and in order to do so, we must manage our habitats for local flora and fauna populations. Last year we began restoration projects on our banks, returning these areas to more open grassland. This year we are continuing to do so in several areas across the site where brambles have recently taken over.

Thorny and frost hardy!

Thorny and frost hardy!

Brambles are fast-growing and can make excellent habitat for nesting birds, but they also crowd out many of the flora and fauna that inhabit the open grassland habitats that Mudchute offers. We have taken professional advice as to where and when works can be carried out and our works are targeting key habitats. To minimise disruption to wildlife, we will be carrying out the works now so not to interfere with nesting birds.

To remove the brambles, we must not only cut back the visible growth, but also remove their roots to prevent rapid recolonisation. New canes begin growing as new shoots from just below the surface in the form of bright pink new buds. Brambles have a few other tricks up their sleeves as well. If a cane meets the soil, the area in contact with the soil can put out roots of its own, tapping into even more resources and fuelling even more growth! And of course, one cannot forget those unforgiving thorns, which are found across the plant, even including its leaves!

All in all, cutting the brambles back is a tough job, but we look forward to seeing the benefits soon. The area may look a bit messy at the moment, but Spring should bring some rather more interesting wildflowers to the area. Thank you for your patience and understanding!

In the meantime, we have produced lots of delicious forage for our goats and pigs and the local wildlife have even pulled together an impromptu cleanup crew, following us as they forage for invertebrates in the disturbed soil. There are plenty of robins in tow and we have even spotted a fox having a go at some earthworms!

Interesting in lending a hand? Could you lend your expertise or equipment? We are always grateful for contributions! Please get in touch with us at voluntering@mudchute.org or to find out more about other ways you can help support our work.


IMG_9485

With winter setting in, we’ve been rather quiet here on the blog. However, staff and volunteers have been hard at work across Mudchute. While winter is a fairly quiet season in terms of visitors, there is much work to be done to maintain and improve our open spaces. Here are just a few photos from around Mudchute this season as we prepare for 2015.


mothsofmudchute

Last week we celebrated National Moth Night. The national event in recognition of moth recording is organized by Atropos and Butterfly Conservation and focused this year on woodland moths. To celebrate, we welcomed you to join us as we checked the trap on Sunday morning and meet some of Mudchute’s many moths!

Here at Mudchute, we provide valuable habitats for these creatures, supporting moths at all of the stages of their lives. Our trees and shrubs offer food for hungry caterpillars as well as places for moths to hibernate over the winter. Our blossoms and wildflowers provide food for adult moths, including migratory species who refuel on their journeys. Caterpillars and moths in turn are food for nesting birds and bats. Finding out more about the moths that live in and pass through our site will allow us to better understand the ecology of Mudchute and bigger issues such as climate change.

To trap the moths, we set up our moth trap overnight. The trap uses a very bright light to attract the moths and its shape helps to funnel the moths into the trap.

Moths as they are photographed and counted before being released

Moths as they are photographed and counted before being released

On Sunday morning we found nearly 70 moths in the trap (as well as a few beetles, flies, lacewings and a wasp)! The moths we’ve met at Mudchute come in a huge range of shapes, sizes, colours and patterns. They are all adapted to particular niches. Some hold their wings tight to appear long and narrow to hide among the grasses, others spread their wings wide and flat to lie flush against the bark of trees. The Water Veneer (Acentria ephemerella) has even evolved to live part of its life underwater! Below you can find just a few of the incredible species we’ve encountered.

All moths were released after being counted!

You can find out more about moths at Butterfly Conservation’s Moths Count website. While Britain is home to about 70 butterfly species, it is home to some 2,500 species of moths, including species which pass through the country during their migration, which includes routes from North Africa and Scandinavia! Interested in finding out more about moths at Mudchute? Get in touch via farm_office@mudchute.org to find out more about or next trapping day.