A rainy day post 

27th May 2014 by jools 

It may be raining for the half-term break, but here at SFPT we bring you bright floral images and fauna puzzles to cheer you up and exercise your brain.  First, check out the "Meet Your Neighbours gallery for the final installation of May images.

Also, please help us confirm the identity of the grasshopper (pictured above) which looks like a woodland grasshopper, but shouldn’t be out yet!  Also, if you’re a moth expert, can you identify the super day-flying moth (in the first row of pictures below) enjoying the pond habitat — just by it’s underside?!

These and other new images are in the Spring gallery.  Answers on a postcard to …


Orchid Glade Working Party

26th May 2014 by jools

Volunteers and Guardians are reminded that next Saturday we are having a working party at Orchid Glade to prepare for our Open Day the following weekend.  


Ragged robin

25th May 2014 by jools

The "Meet Your Neighbours" images now include ragged robin, a common wildflower producing great nectar for bees and butterflies.  It thrives in damp boggy meadows.  At Fromus we find it growing next to a channel through a field near the earthwork.  


May activity

24th May 2014 by jools

It must be Spring!  Laurie Forsyth has written his Fromus May report (which you can read within the Seasonal Diaries), damselflies are mating and ovipositing, and Springwatch is starting on Monday — what a wonderful wildlife-laden bank holiday!


May sunshine

18th May 2014 by jools

Suddenly, the sun is out and with it are a host of airborne invertebrates.  All that remains of the red poll grazing are hoof prints and cowpats, but the meadows are bursting with life and birdsong.  


Ancient Woodland?

14th May 2014 by jools

In April, we surveyed and recorded, as usual, but perhaps with more rigour and with some helping hands at our Open Day.  We have new images of previous recordings (three are shown below), and new recordings of bluebell and ramsons under the canopy near the Fromus.  We muse on the significance of this, but conclude our wooded areas represent a riparian strip rather than ancient woodland.


A year in the life of Suffolk Flora

13th May 2014 by jools

Last month, Jools documented some exciting finds for the "Meet Your Neighbours" (MYN) project, which will showcase the biodiversity at our Fromus reserve throughout 2014 (see "April" image below).

However, if you can’t wait for the summer species revelations, visit the Visuals page to watch our "Seasonal Journey" video of the full year at Simpson’s Fromus Valley and the summer highlights at Orchid Glade.  This should whet your appetite for orchids and dragonflies at our next open days – June 7th & 8th!


More Bryophytes

11th May 2014 by jools

Our bryophyte recorder, Richard Fisk, visited Simpson’s Fromus Valley last week.  Despite the river it was quite dry (it is the end of the bryophyte season in Suffolk) and it appeared to be generally less humid than at Hasketon: the presumption being, it is more exposed to drying winds, and epiphytes were hard to find.  

There was really one moss worthy of a specific record (shown below — OOPS! A MISSING IMAGE!).  This is Tortula schimperi; it used to be variety of T. subulata, but was fairly recently elevated to specific status by Spanish bryologists.   Richard says, "I have been looking for it across Suffolk for it appears to have an eastern distribution in Britain — and Suffolk, so far, has more records than elsewhere, so I was pleased to find a new site for it.  A return visit in the winter will, I am sure, add some names to the list."

You can find the full list of bryophytes recorded on the Species Lists page.


News from Orchid Glade

7th May 2014 by jools

On May 2nd the Reserve was visited to see how the cattle were getting on.  The new fence is installed, separating the wooded perimeter of the reserve (18m wide) from the core area which is targetted to become open, flower-rich pasture with a rich scattering of native trees.  The cleared fence-line gives the visitor a pleasant route to walk round the reserve.

Deer can access the perimeter wood at Orchid Glade, and both muntjac and fallow deer are visitors.  They keep the undergrowth comparatively clear.  The open woodland belt  contrasts with the deer-exclusion area (seen in the image below) where there is thick undergrowth.

As a trial, over the May Bank holiday, the herd of British White cattle, resident at White House Farm, Hasketon and managed by Sinfield Nature Conservation Trust (but jointly owned by Suffolk Flora Preservation Trust), were put into Orchid Glade, in the hope that they would browse the succulent new shoots of alder and ash (in particular) that are springing up so vigorously from in the areas cleared by volunteers last year.

Unfortunately, the British White cattle were only interested in grazing the grassy areas, where the sward is already tightly controlled by rabbits.  They ignored the new shoots of alder and ash (even when these were offered by hand), only showing a little interest in hazel.  At this stage of the year, for good management of the floral heritage, cattle grazing is undesirable (we also wish to safeguard the few clumps of hazel).  Regretfully, we must conclude that these cattle are not going to help the management of this reserve in the spring. The cattle will now be removed.



26th Apr 2014 by jools

Herewith, an early report from our well attended Open Day this morning – despite the rain!  We were extremely pleased to have a moth trap set last night, for the first time.  At 06:30 three volunteers checked the trap and found 25 species and an ichneumon wasp.  Pictured is the trap and a (creamy yellow) brimstone moth (taken on iphone as your intrepid photographer left the kit behind…).

Visitors were able to see all the moths sitting quietly in pots and marvel at their diversity of size, appearance and colour – from the large buff ermine with his furry head through the (very early) sighting of an orange footman to the coxcomb prominent which is easily mistaken for a chip of bark!

The volunteers undertook a bird survey and also found 25 species including blackcap, whitethroat and lesser whitethroat with buzzard and sparrowhawk.  Sadly, we also found a number of predated eggs, including probable moorhen near the cattle pond.

We look forward in the near future to presenting the full findings of both surveys, with a bryophyte survey and some photographs by guest contributors!  We will also be featuring in the EADT environment supplement so look out for that next Saturday.


Meet Your Neighbours

18th Apr 2014 by jools

SFPT is proud to announce a new partnership for 2014 with "Meet Your Neighbours"(MYN) – a photographic initiative founded in 2009 to promote local wildlife and biodiversity.  Meet your neighbours dignifies common species by giving them "celebrity treatment"; photographing them on location with a "field studio" so as not to disturb the habitat.

Visit our Meet Your Neighbours page for more details.


The Lichens of Fromus Valley Kelsale Reserve

16th Apr 2014 by jools


GR 62(TM)/38-66-.     23.3.2014.     C.J.B. Hitch

"The reserve was visited on the said date and the site walked to get a preliminary idea of the lichen flora present.

"It is approximately 28 acres of pastureland, divided into fields with hedges with mature trees along their length. At the top of the reserve is some light woodland, bordering the River Fromus, with earthworks beneath the trees and a water meadow beyond.

"Apart from these habitats, there are some small amounts of worked wood in various states of decay and very occasionally, bits of stonework, either as concrete lumps, helping to stabilise the soil in a hedgerow gap, but also few ancient concrete gateposts.

"All these substrates support different lichens and to date 42 species have been recorded in the field, but one or two scrapes were collected where it was felt that the author was not entirely sure of their determination.

"It was decided that a further visit would be beneficial and this will take place in due course, a fuller report made and a mapping card deposited in the archives of the Trust."

Dr. C.J.B. Hitch
April 15th 2014.


☞  Dr Hitch's paper, "The Lichens of Orchid Glade" resulting from his subsequent visit there on 31st May, can be viewed via the Species Lists page.



12th Apr 2014 by jools

Today’s visit to check the welfare of our five resident steers and one heifer — they’re fine, but do not approach them! — was improved by a wonderful new find of four native bluebells in the wood.  See the Fromus Valley Spring page.


April report

7th Apr 2014 by jools

Laurie Forsyth treats us to a verbal glimpse of Fromus Valley in its Spring glory in his report, which you can read within the Seasonal Diaries.  If you want to see it for yourself, come along to our Open Day on the 26th.


Bryophyte survey

5th Apr 2014 by jools

SFPT had the pleasure to host bryophyte recorder Richard Fisk at Orchid Glade.  He says, “There was a lot of moss on the ground but rather limited in number of species although overall there was an interesting mix.  Some trees had a number of epiphytes, in particular a willow by the pond (the nearest one on the left as you face the pond).  They included the tiny liverwort Cololejeuna minutissima and moss Orthotrichum striatum.  Not so many years ago Cololejeuna minutissima was more or less restricted to the south and western coastal areas of Britain, but it has spread quite rapidly across the country and is becoming fairly frequent in Suffolk. Orthotrichum striatum is also another species on the move and again is becoming more frequent in the county.  The best find of the day, however, was the moss Climacium dendroides, which I found in the cleared area parallel to the road.  This moss is fairly frequent in Breckland but is rare in East Suffolk.  I have previously only found it on Bungay Common and at Barnby Broad, so this is a completely new area.  I only saw a small patch of it but it looked very healthy and was growing well, perhaps benefitting from clearance of the scrub.”

☞  You can find the full species listing, the "Orchid Glade Bryophyte Survey" results, via the Species Lists page.


Save the frogs!

2nd Apr 2014 by jools

Our next Open Day on the 26th coincides with International “Save The Frogs” Day – come along and see how our tadpoles are progressing at the Fromus Reserve round.


 1405 vetch   1405 grasshopper   1405 day flying moth  

 1405 ragged robin   1405 ovipositing  1405 orchid 2  

 1405 cuckoo flower   1405 orchid glade sign   1405 red damsels mating  

 1405 3 nerved sandwort     1405 field maple   1405 sanicle  

1405 april   1405 0 Red Twin spot Carpet  

 1405 bluebell   1401 lichen   1404 MYN set up

 1404 0 Brimstone moth

 MISSING IMAGES (seven altogether):    "moss" (actually a Tortula schimperi, identified by Richard Fisk);  rare-breed-british-white-cattle-grazing;  cattle-proof-fence;  rare-breed-british-white-cattle-orchid-glade;  (caption maybe=) ichneumon moth;  rare-breed-british-white-cattle-grazing-orchid-glade;  CIMG0006;