I haven’t posted for a little while so this is a brief update on a few things that have been happening here at the Bath Skyline.
We recently finished off some work removing an old concrete and barbed wire fence from the skyline path that separated Freefields (partially council owned land) and Monument field, which is used as a sports field by Prior Park College. The transformation of the space is quite astonishing – It is not until one removes the fence that you realise how oppressive and enclosed it felt. The path has now been liberated, opening it up to be part of the woodland it runs adjacent to – there is now a completely different feel to it.
While we were there, we discovered a strange pale flowering plant without any leaves amongst the shaded vegetation that neither Tabi nor I had come across before – toothwort.
Also, tucked away in a corner of Freefields are two of the most beautiful beech trees that Rob has introduced me to. Where the soil has been eroded, the roots spill up and out of the soil and down the bank like lava and you can see amazing cross sections of the bedrock where the roots have grown down through the layers of limestone. Sadly, these trees have been quite mistreated, having been used as air rifle targets and a fire burnt in the hollow of one of them.
We have also started our seasonal path clearing, using brushcutters to cut back the spring growth – mostly brambles and nettles – along the skyline trail on Claverton Down. The cut plant material is then slung into the dark hedge to avoid the nutrients going straight back into the soil to feed the next growth.
We had another Wild Wednesday where we got the kids bug hunting and snail racing. We found some really interesting little creatures – of which I, regrettably, have no photos because I was too engrossed in learning about creepy crawlies with the kids to think about taking any. We had a shiny metallic lime green weevil, some other bulbous iridescent green beetles, rove beetles, a speckled wood butterfly, a red admiral butterfly and a couple of grotesque looking mites that were bright orange (clover mites, perhaps?), amongst other common inverts.
We have been seeing loads of holly blues and orange tip butterflies around this spring, especially when walking around Prior Park. It seems that there has been quite a significant boom in their population this year that has been noted across much of the country. It is not fully understood why we have seen these population surges, though i expect the bout of early warm weather has probably had something to do with it!
In other news, James, the farmer, has welcomed a couple of alpacas into his flock to look after the lambs. Apparently, their instinctual herd mentality means that they will protect the young by fending off marauding foxes. They’re very funny looking creatures and we’ve all been enjoying them as our neighbours.
Finally, we’ve done a whole load of work up on the balcony and the pond, which is looking absolutely fantastic – so much so, that it is deserving of its very own post, which will follow shortly.