Sunday, 22 May 2016

Post 410 - Happily Hanging about at Haggewoods

Wasp (to be identified) on a buttercup at Hagges Wood
Hey everyone today's Post 410 and this is a great one in so many ways. First it is another reserve to add to my challenge, second I met another person who is very passionate about nature and thirdly I saw lots of bugs, birds and flowers. But the most amazing thing is that this place didn't exist 4 years ago!

Hagges Wood from the Bee Hotel
I was invited to this place quite a while ago by one of its creators, Lin Hawthorne. It's just outside of York and it's called Three Hagges Wood Meadow or Hagges Wood for short. Work began in 2012, the Queens Jubilee, to clear a field that had been used to grow barley for many years. The project is to try and re-create a very rich and biodiverse habitat - a wood meadow. There's a lot of info on the Three Hagges Wood Meadow website about this but it seems like we have lost almost all of this habitat over the last 60 years!

Lin and the others want to recreate this precious habitat to see how easy or hard it might be to do. They are quite important as similar habitats in Estonia have 76 plant species per square metre. For every new species it's estimated 5 or 6 species of invertebrate can be attracted, and they are just a small part of the food chain so you can see how important they could be.
Checking out the Bee Hotel with Lin

So what did they do once they'd cleared the field of weeds? Well they rolled it and then spread on a meadow seed mix which had in it a variety of meadow plant species. Along with this a lot of native trees were planted in copses. The meadow mix was important to make sure the woods weren't just full of brambles and docks but had a woodland floor that would be something like ancient woodland.

Black & Red Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata)
A Drinker Moth Caterpiller (Euthrix potatori)
As you can see from the photos it's early days for the trees. They are just starting to get going. The meadow bit is doing very well though. There were all sorts of plants that Lin pointed out. The first seed mix had about 20 species in it. Volunteers have collected seed from verges and grown other species which have been planted and some others found their own way in like the Bluebells from the neighbouring wood. Vetches, Yellow Rattle, Sorrel, Trefoils, Plantains, Clovers, Daisys, well all sorts of plants and grasses including Dogs Tail Grass and others were pointed out by Lin. There are lists on the project's website of all the things that are there now, around 230 plant species altogether!

Not only are there a lot of plants there are so many insects. Even just wandering slowly across the meadow we saw lots of spiders, flies, bees, slugs, beetles, moths and wasps. Lin told me that they have now counted over 400 species of invertebrate on the meadow - incredible after only 3 years!

The hope is this sort of approach could be used in smaller places and could be used to make corridors of habitat to help bring back biodiversity in the country where it has been lost due to farming and development. It could help to reverse the loss of habitats and species that has been happening.

Ermine Moth
Three Hagge Woods is a place that I will have to go to again. When you start to walk into the site it doesn't seem like much is happening, but the closer you look the more you can see is there. I lost count of the number of different spiders I saw. A massive beetle kept falling off the grass and scurrying away when I tried to photograph it. The Bee Hotel was amazing, three different types of plug were in the holes, some plugged with mud, some with wax and others with wood shavings.

We found four Broad Bodied Chasers
(Libulella depressa) emerging as well as around 12 exuvia!
One of the best bits was the pond though. Not only were there pond skaters, water boatmen, whirlygig beetles, snails, newts and tadpoles we saw a spider happily walking across the water (not sure of species yet). I saw my first damselfly of the year and then I found a Broad Bodied Chaser. Looking closer I saw it was in the process of emerging from a nymph. As we looked around we found 3 more. Lin, Dad and I watched them for ages pumping their wings and bodies up and drying out. We kept watching until they eventually flew off. It is an amazing thing to see new life forming like that.

Dragonflies are amazing, this is only the second time I've seen this happen. The first time I wrote a post about it and it's still my most popular post - the lifecycle of Dragonflies and Damsleflies.

Well after that I realised it was well past dinner time so we had a picnic and eventually headed home.

I want to say a big thank you to Lin for inviting me and showing me round. It will be good to keep going back to Hagge Woods to see how it develops. Maybe there will be one near you soon if the idea keeps working as well as it has here. I would be good for everyone to have a Hagge Wood to watch growing up.

Hope you enjoyed,


P.S. You might like the spider photos here, they made me think it was saying this...

Spiders? Around here?
Hmm, well I did see one over there...
It was huge, about this big!

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