November 17 2017 18:59:28
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High brown fritillary butterfly showing underside of wings on an orchid.
Photo by Rob Petley-Jones
Holme Park Quarry Local Nature Reserve (LNR) is a small but key part of limestone landscape that occupies much of the land from Farleton Knott to the north to Lancelot Clarke Storth and Plain Quarry in the south, and to Hutton Roof in the east.

The quality of the limestone pavement and the role of the sites for butterflies in particular, make this whole area significant for both wildlife and geology.

Much of the land is now designated as a series of nature reserves.

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March in the Reserve
March in the Reserve

As spring flowers emerge and birds seek nesting places, some shrubs and trees are in full flower. One of these is Mezereon (Daphne mezereum). A single plant, about 1 metre tall, can be spotted a few yards directly ahead of the entrance to the reserve, after leaving the plantation. It is easily found in mid-March with it's purple flowers and attractive perfume. Soon it will merge into the background as it's leaves grow. Is it a native plant or a garden escapee? It's photo can be viewed in the gallery album "March in the Reserve".

April in the Reserve
April in the Reserve

Warmer weather brings more colour to the reserve with flowering of Primroses, Cowslips, Early Purple Orchids and the important foodplant for Fritillary butterfly caterpillars, Violets. Peacock, Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies emerge from hibernation in stone-walls and evergreens and Speckled Wood from its overwintering chrysalis.

August in the Reserve
August in the Reserve

The flight period for large fritillaries is coming to an end. The late summer hatch of Speckled Wood is evident as they dart around the dappled woodland showing off their creamy-yellow patches on a chocolate background. Their numbers will increase until they fade away at the end of September. Look out too for slowworm on the paths.

May in the Reserve
May in the Reserve

During May many songbirds can be heard including the shy Blackcap and the more common Willow Warbler. Can you tell the difference?

The Small Pearl-bordered butterfly has emerged. In sunshine it stands out against the green foliage with it's bright orange upper wings and silver patches and pearl margins on it's underwings. Photos of this locally common, but nationally in decline, butterfly can be seen in the photo gallery.

Small copper, dingy skipper, orange tip, small heath, speckled wood, peacock, green-veined white and large white have also been seen here this month.

Winter Work on the Reserve
Winter Work on the Reserve

Work is carried out during winter to check the growth of brambles and maintain the diversity of flowering plants. Whilst bramble flowers and fruit are themselves used by the large fritillaries, grayling, red admiral and other insects, they will shade out other flowers if allowed to become dominant.