Autumn moths 

14th Sep 2014 by jools 

We enjoyed a wonderfully warm and sunny open day at our Fromus reserve, yesterday.  Pete Rowberry was up at 5 a.m. to unpack the moth trap and identify the species found.  Visitors enjoyed the sight of new species with glorious names: Chinese character, flame-shoulder, square-spot rustic and lunar underwing.  The hedgerows are laden with fruit and the meadows are now all cut, yielding 104 bales of hay — and the sloe gin verdict?  It had to be local Adnams!



5th Sep 2014 by jools

We’ll be setting our moth trap prior to our next Open Day – weather permitting!  What moths will be enjoying the autumn?  Come and see at our Fromus Reserve on the 13th.


Our "Meet Your Neighbours" exhibition in London

29th Aug 2014 by jools

Susi Luard from the City of London and Cripplegate Photographic Society has kindly provided three images of our "Meet Your Neighbours" exhibition in a London shop window.


August Report

26th Aug 2014 by jools

A huge thank you to everyone who popped a counter in the SFPT box at Waitrose: we raised £450.


Orchid Glade in Summer

17th Aug 2014 by jools

Orchid Glade may not have provided much in the way of tasty pasture for our rare breed English White cattle in spring, but it provides a plethora of flora in summer for the pollinators.  New images in the "Meet Your Neighbours" gallery can help you identify them.


Next Open Day

15th Aug 2014 by jools

As summer closes, our last Open Day of the year is at Simpson’s Fromus Valley on 13th September.  It’s a chance to see what the amazing hedgerow has to offer, pick blackberries, watch birds and dragonflies and appreciate the woods before the leaves fall.  Last year’s sloe gin experiment will be available for tasting and cards and images available for purchase.

Simpson’s Fromus Valley is entirely volunteer-run and is a wild site — there are no loos and limited parking, so we encourage you to arrive by bike, or on foot via the local footpaths.  Wear suitable clothing and sturdy footwear and be prepared for English weather as the only shelter is afforded by the cattle shed.


Great-Crested Newt

11th Aug 2014 by jools

Our 3rd August bioblitz is slowly receiving records: we’ve had the moths, fungi are coming on Wednesday, and we anticipate planthoppers in due course.  But we did get excited about a newt larva (shown below left) – identified as a great-crested newt.  Great-crested newts are protected and widely studied.  They overwinter on land and use ponds to breed – the males displaying, and the females carefully wrapping their eggs in a leaf using their hindlegs at the pond margins.


Sea of Fleabane

10th Aug 2014 by jools

Orchid glade is now transformed into a “fleabane sea” attracting a huge number of pollen-hungry invertebrates.  This year, instead of hundreds of peacocks, there are clouded yellow, common blue and small tortoiseshell representing the lepidoptera (with one day-flying silver-Y moth).  Bees are numerous and varied, including the neat Colletes fodiens, and luckily ladybirds are out in number – although limited to the 7-spot.

See more images in the Orchid Glade gallery  and check out new "Meet Your Neighbours" images – including a delightful green shield-bug.


August Moths

7th Aug 2014 by jools

Our newest Guardian & U3A wildlife group leader, Pete Rowberry, intrepidly set a Skinner moth trap with actinic bulb near the cowshed after our Open Day last Sunday.  He was able to take these images of non-moth species who enjoyed the shelter of the trap overnight – a hornet (distinguishable from wasps by its reddish-brown legs and thorax) and our friend nicrophorus investigator – the burying beetle.  He did, of course, manage to record some moths!  You can find the recording sheet on our species lists page – a different cast of poetically-named characters to our April recording: scalloped oak, mottled beauty, shuttle-shaped dart and dark arches amongst them.  Pete hopes to go along monthly & enlarge our understanding of the nocturnal life of Fromus Valley.


SFPT “Meet Your Neighbours” photography exhibition

6th Aug 2014 by jools

Visitors to our open day wondered how these lovely images were done – assuming they must be acrylics or paintings rather than digital photography.  The "Meet Your Neighbours" technique was also compared to Victorian botanical illustration – and it certainly aims to achieve that level of scientific record with artistry.


Fromus open day success

5th Aug 2014 by jools

We enjoyed a wonderfully sunny Open Day at our Fromus reserve on Sunday afternoon.  The cut hay was rowed whilst visitors and guardians enjoyed recording the wildlife, and hearing about the amazing historical significance of the site.  Early on, a yellowhammer greeted visitors from a vantage point high up in a dead tree and, later, a hobby cruised over Mere Meadow.  Butterflies were plentiful for the Big Butterfly Count: mainly meadow browns and gatekeepers, but sightings of painted ladies, tortoiseshell and common blue added to the mix.  Dragonflies were abundant – two pairs of large hawkers droned high overhead and the ruddy darters were clasped in tandem.  Local planthopper recorders hoovered & pootered one uncut meadow, expecting up to 12 different species and finding a bishop’s-mitre shield-bug and a lovely grasshopper very early on.  Watermint at the pond edge, teasel on the river bank and waterplantain provided splashes of lilac and the meadow vetchling was profusely flowering, with its characteristic black pods in evidence.  Later in the day a green woodpecker was spotted and a moth-trap was set – yielding 13 positive species identifications, a hornet and a burying beetle.

You can see more images from the day in our Summer gallery and you can visit Fromus Valley again on 13th September at our next Open Day, when the hedgerow should provide you with abundant blackberries and there may be mushrooms – if you know what you’re doing!  Neil Mahler, Suffolk’s fungi recorder, found oyster mushrooms on Sunday – but the squirrels had beaten us to the feast!  There will also be a chance to taste last year’s sloe gin and decide for yourself what the best combination of gin, sloe & sugar should be!

Keep following us for the full records from the day, which will be posted as they come in.


Orchid Glade Open Day

3rd Aug 2014 by jools

We enjoyed a dry and sporadically sunny open day yesterday morning.  The site is changed from June’s showing of orchids into a sea of yellow – fleabane and agrimony – which are starting to tempt the butterflies.  Compared to last year’s Big Butterfly Count, there were no peacocks (yet), but a tortoiseshell and a pair of common blues were bright draws amongst the numerous gatekeepers.  Pond-dipping found many baby newts, water boatmen and a snail, and underfoot startled froglets escaped from trampling feet.  Four large hawker dragonflies helicoptered overhead, never settling and ruddy darters pottered about near the pond.  The long grass also sheltered some enormous crickets, which bounded off at the approach of an investigatory eye.

New umbellifers were found, near the deer-exclusion zone — wild carrot and upright hedge parsley.  Corn sow-thistle is growing near the marsh woundwort – whose flowers look very like those of an orchid, but the leaves are very different.  This time of year, the rabbits have so much food they aren’t cropping the flora so closely, and so the common centaury and red bartsia have gained some height.  You can see more images from the day in the Orchid Glade gallery and you can join in the species-recording at our Simpsons Fromus Valley Reserve Open Day later today!


Reports from high summer

2nd Aug 2014 by jools

In time to tempt you along to our Open Days, later this morning and tomorrow, have a leisurely read of the new seasonal botany reports for July at our two sites by our botanical recorder and eco-journalist, Laurie Forsyth.  Evoking the meadows in beautiful prose, the reports prepare you for the sights, sounds and joy of the outdoors at our two private reserves.  Sadly, dwindling in area for the nature lover SFPT continues to preserve these sites for future generations — with your help.


Weekend plans?

1st Aug 2014 by jools

What have you got planned for this weekend?  We have two Open Days to tempt you into the great outdoors — tomorrow at Orchid Glade Reserve (near Woodbridge) and Sunday at Simpson’s Fromus Valley Reserve (Kelsale).

On Saturday you can see common fleabane, common centaury and LOTS of butterflies – some along and do a "Big Butterfly Count" for 15 minutes.  Last year we had painted ladies visiting us, but we would love to know what you find.

On Sunday, you can see the wonderful Fromus Reserve – small hay meadows with the remnants of a medieval earthwork giving a glimpse into life at Kelsale Park.  We are doing a full “bioblitz” so bring along your camera, your smartphone, your pencil and notepad and tell us what you see as you wander round!

 1409 mothman pete rowberry   

 1409 silver y back   1409 flame shoulder moth   1409 square spot rustic  

 1408 orchid glade flora     1408 waitrose community matters SFPT thank you  

 1408 common fleabane   1408 newt larva    1408 purple bullace  

1408 7spot on fleabane   1408 sea of fleabane  

 1408 Colletes fodiens   1408 Hornet   1408 Burying Beetle 

 1408 c.yellow   1408 tufted vetch  1408 agrimony 

 1408 ringspotted marsh orchid  1408 darters   1408 rowing the hay 

 1408 small tortoiseshell   1408 small tortoiseshell3   1408 common centaury flower  

 1408 common blue   1408 7 SPOT LADYBIRD   1408 skipper2 


 MISSING IMAGES:  exhibition; exhibition 2; exhibition 3