Getting Down and Dingy

I have a load of blog posts stock-piling, but I’ve been away the last two weekends, so this is a bit belated, but here you go…

One of the many awesome things I get to do is to work with local farmers, advising them on suitable projects and schemes to improve their farmland for biodiversity. This is John Adams, who owns College Farm and Lime Pits Farm (the fields that surround Park Lime Pits LNR in Walsall), and he takes part in Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship Scheme.
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As part of the stewardship agreement, certain parts of his fields are left for wildlife. This means wide, uncultivated margins for invertebrates, winter crops to provide seed for birds, and awesome special projects like this one – a Dingy Skipper habitat!

Dingy Skipper is a widespread but declining (and it has to be said, decidedly UN-dingy) butterfly, which relies on large areas of its larval foodplant, Bird’s Foot Trefoil. I was asked to head over to Lime Pits Farm to see how John’s two Trefoil plots are doing, and to search for any signs of Dingy Skippers (caterpillars, eggs, etc).

We are planning on rotational cuts to the area and the introduction of Yellow Rattle to compete with the dominant grasses. Alas, we found no sign of Dingy Skippers (yet!) but did find this moth caterpillar – any ID would be greatly appreciated!

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