Last weekend we hired a heavy duty rotivator to churn up the grass to create a bare earth strip for Turtle Doves. This proved singularly unsuccessful – the machine simply wasn’t big and heavy enough for the job.
Today we called in the big guns – a digger and a skilled operator who made short work of it. It was a completely miserable morning, cold and wet and I think he too became cold and wet but somehow managed to remain cheerful.
The strip is 3-4m wide and we reckon about 60m long
There are quite a few big clods still and we are not yet sure what the final surface finish ideally needs to be, but if it needs to be finer, we could work along the strip breaking it up a bit with a spade.
Once that job was done, we took the opportunity to create another landscape feature we had been thinking of doing – a Butterfly Bank.
We saw 21 species of butterfly in the meadows last year. However, there are other species that we didn’t see but can maybe persuade to come here because we already have the food plant that their caterpillars need. Grayling, Grizzled Skipper, Dingy Skipper and Wall. All these species could potentially be here in Kent but require bare earth. The Turtle Dove strip may therefore help, but Butterfly Conservation suggest that a butterfly bank is dug: dig a trench and invert the soil behind to form a bank with the nutritionally poor, deeper soil now on the surface. Grass will not do well on the poor soil, allowing pioneer weeds to flourish – this will be a new habitat mosaic for us.
This butterfly bank was dug along the furthest boundary. Here, the underlying chalk is not far below the surface and so the resulting bank is south-facing and very chalky which I think is ideal.
It will be really interesting to see what uses these new landscape featured over the coming few months.