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Nature blog - Jenny Bourne

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Shady fox, red admirals, Shropshire and Wenlock Edge

Date posted: Tuesday 6th June 2017

Shady fox, red admirals, Shropshire and Wenlock Edge

This youngster has become quite a fixture round the plots – strolling nonchalently along the paths as if he (she?) owns the place, quite unfazed by the presence of hard working plotholders! On a very hot afternoon the only thing to do is to take it easy in the shade! After the heat of the last week or so the very welcome rain has arrived, giving the ground a good old soak..

Martin found this caterpillar folded into a nettle leaf at the back of his plot. We weren’t sure what it was but in the name of scientific research Martin succeeded in tracking it down – a red admiral:

One of my four blog readers may have noticed my deliberate mistake in a previous blog, not a large tortoisehell! Nettles are invaluable plants for several of our rapidly declining butterfly species: Although appearing menacing and unappealing nettles are actually very important for various butterfly species, so keeping a patch in your garden will greatly benefit these species (Woodland Trust). Red admirals, mall tortoiseshells, peacocks, commas and painted ladies all lay their eggs on nettle leaves in a sunny location. In Shropshire last week we saw many folded nettle leaves, a reassuring sign of butterflies to come. And many other wildlife encounters in this lovely county, some more startling for we ophidiophobics than others:

Almost stepped on this young slow worm, warming itself up on a quiet path along Wenlock Edge – it was still sluggish and my intrepid partner was tasked with gently encouraging it to vacate the path – it was quite inert for a while but finally wriggled into the undergrowth – an exciting but nerve wracking encounter! Early summer flowers fringed the path, dog rose and even one common spotted orchid:

These turk’s head lilies were flourishing in a bright patch by one of the old limstone quarries along the Edge:

We visited Ludlow, foodie capital of the UK and a really attractive town; a friend says that she always enjoys towns with castles and the river walk adds to the enjoyment. This green tiger beetle was lurking along Bread Walk, named for the payments of bread received by the millworkers!

Shropshire is also home to some wonderful gardens and we were lucky enough to visit Wollerton Old Hall Garden – highly recommended by Chrises Beardshaw and Packham, Roy Strong and me; a stunning arrangement of gorgeous planting and structural paths:

A truly wonderful example of a quintessential garden, but not to be outdone, our own allotments front bed planted up with a variety of pollinator attractive species is blooming, visited now by bees, butterflies and, obviously,ladybirds!