Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Barnack Hills & Holes butterflies & flowers

Barnack Hills & Holes Nature Reserve image of a marbled white

Continuing on with my exploration of small British wildlife, I decided to pay a visit to Barnack Hills & Holes Nature Reserve to see what diminutive creatures I could find, and because it was supposed to have quite the display of wild flowers this time of year.

Formed from the rubble of a medieval quarry, the reserve is one of Britain’s most important wildlife sites. Encapsulating the phrase, small but perfectly formed, the site covers just 50 acres, but its meadowland is designated a Special Area of Conservation, a National Nature Reserve, a Nature Conservation Review site and last but by no means least, a Special Area of Conservation. Partly due to the fact that the orchid rich grassland is very rare, and makes up over half of this type of habitat in Cambridgeshire.

Field scabious and wildflowers at the nature reserve of Barnack Hills & Holes
A field scabious and other wildflowers.

Its unique hillocky landscape was created by quarrying for limestone, originally by the Romans over 1,500 years ago. Also known as Barnack Rag, it is most famously known for being used in the construction of Peterborough and Ely cathedrals in the 12th century. By the year 1500 all the useful stone had been removed, and the bare heaps of limestone gradually became covered by a rich carpet of wildflowers that can be seen today.

Photograph of a Gatekeeper butterfly at Barnack Hills & Holes
Gatekeeper butterfly feeding.

The traditional management of limestone grasslands is done with sheep and at Barnack, grazing is carried out in autumn by up to 300 of them. They remove the summer growth and build-up of leaves, stalks and grass tussocks that would otherwise die back to form a dead layer, or litter, on the ground. Without grazing, the build-up of coarse grasses and litter would rapidly choke the rarer lime-loving plants.

Macro image of butterfly on a lilac flower at Barnack Hills & Holes
A marbled white on a field scabious. It was just about to take off when I got the picture, which is why its
wings are a bit of a blur.

It’s impossible to get a sense of this rather bizarre landscape from my pictures, so here’s an image taken from a hot air balloon of the reserve from above, to give you some idea.

Beautiful pink pyrmidal orchids in a shallow depth of field macro image
The distinctive pyramidal orchid.

Ornate butterfly in macro image of a delicate purple flower at Barnack Hills & Holes
Marbled white on a thistle. It's not an ideal photo because its face is not in focus,
but I like the clarity of the detail on its wings.

Delicate yellow blooms at Barnack Hills & Holes Nature Reserve
The sunny flowers of a wild parsnip.

Orange and brown colours of a gatekeeper butterfly at Barnack Hills & Holes
A gatekeeper spreads its wings.

Macro image of greater knapweed buds at Barnack Hills & Holes
Buds of the greater knapweed.

Beautiful colours of a 7 spot ladybird on wild parsnip flowers at Barnack Hills & Holes
A very vibrant looking 7 spot ladybird.

Wildlife photography of a marbled white butterfly at Barnack Hills & Holes
Another marbled white, one of the most distinctive of British butterflies, as its the only one in black and white!

pink blooms of pyramidal orchids in this macro shot from Barnack Hills & Holes
A collection of pyramidal orchids.

Beautiful colours of a meadow brown on a lilac field scabious at Barnack Hills & Holes
The ubiquitous meadow brown, which seems to call everywhere its home. 

macro image of a nursery web spider at Barnack Hills & Holes Nature Reserve
I spotted a small web pouch full of a baby spiders in the undergrowth, after a bit of searching I found mum,
the aptly named nursery web spider.

Two pyramidal orchids next to each other at Barnack Hills & Holes Nature Reserve
On the left is a white pyramidal orchid, which is incredibly rare.

Macro image of black and white butterfly at Barnack Hills & Holes
The uppersides of a marbled white.

Beautiful wildflower colours at Barnack Hills & Holes Nature Reserve
Wild parsnips with some purple flowers for backdrop.

Nature photography from Barnack Hills & Holes of wildflower meadow
Wildflower meadow.

Macro photography at Barnack Hills & Holes of a gatekeeper butterfly
Gatekeeper, a very close relation to the meadow brown, but easily identified because of its dual white
spots in the wings 'eye'.

Red and green fruit of the crab apple tree in the nature reserve of Barnack Hills & Holes
Some crab apples on the tree.

Macro image of a lilac field scabious with bokeh at Barnack Hills & Holes
And finally, a beautiful lilac field scabious.

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