Wildlife Column: Great place for pretty butterflies

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Local woods are echoing to the insistent song of the chiffchaff and this was joined recently by early blackcaps, and of course the ubiquitous robins, blackbirds and song thrushes. With the warm weather of recent weeks, things are hotting up for local wildlife.

Derek Bayliss reported orange-tip butterflies with two or more flying at Wortley Top Forge on Sunday, April 9. The upper Don Valley is a great place for these pretty little butterflies, they just love the riverside vegetation. He also spotted an early swallow over Whirlow Hall Farm on Sunday, April 16, and on the same day, a sparrowhawk over Bents Green.

Things are hotting up for local wildlife

However, to get a real feel for spring coming, head for the woods. The bluebell season is upon us, and this is an annual treat provided by nature on your doorstep – so get out and enjoy it. The wood anemones and lesser celandines are at about their peak but the bluebells, wild garlic, greater stitchwort, and wood sorrel are yet to come. On a warm spring day, as the birdsong and fragrance of the flowers mix, the effect is almost overpowering. In springtime the fresh greens of the emerging leaves of oak, hazel, sallow and sycamore add to the visual impacts.

To find out more about woodland flowers and how to ‘read’ the landscape of ancient woods, then check out my website www.ukeconet.org and look under ‘events’. In partnership with the Royal Forestry Society we have a series of workshops coming up.

Also, in late May we host a two-day event at Sheffield Hallam University on Wood Meadows & Pastures; and this features a star-studded line-up of speakers including Sheffield’s own award-wining writer and broadcaster, Professor Chris Baines. There will be a promotional event for Chris’s latest book, the updated version of How to Make a Wildlife Garden now a Companion to Wildlife Gardening and published by Frances Lincoln with the Royal Horticultural Society. Chris will talk about making and managing meadows.

Another keynote speaker is Dr George Peterken, who recently published a major volume called Meadows in the best-selling British Wildlife series.

It’s first come, first served, and places are limited.