Cinnabar caterpillar feeding on ragwort
July … and the fields are high with a great variety of grasses.
You might see ragwort – a tall plant with clusters of bright yellow flowers; this is poisonous to some grazing animals and is best left alone; but have a look – you may spot some bright orange and black striped caterpillars chomping their way through the leaves. These will turn into beautiful grey and red Cinnabar moths.
There are big patches of bright yellow Bird’s-foot Trefoil in fields near the centre of the estate. It takes its name from the appearance of the pods which do look just like birds’ feet. An alternative name is Bacon-and-eggs because the buds are sometimes orange, like eggs.
Look out for small Common Blue butterflies which lay their eggs on this plant. The male butterflies are brilliant blue but the females are brown.
Common Blue (Male)
In amongst the nettles and thistles you may also find the black Peacock caterpillar, which turns into a beautifully coloured butterfly.
Other wild flowers to be seen on the Estate include Agrimony, Wild Basil, Self-Heal, Bird’s-Foot Trefoil, Convolvulus or Field Scabious and Common Knapweed.
Teasel is growing on Dell Mound, and dries well for winter decoration. It has been cut recently as part of management of the grass there, but some remains on the steep path from the mound into Dell Wood.
Butterflies, including Marbled White, can be seen on the grassland areas, with others on the various buddleia bushes.
August … and blackberry time! The hedgerows round the big fields, specially Dell Field between the Nature Reserve and the red chestnut avenue, are rich with delicious fruit. Wear long sleeves and trousers when you go to gather them, there are an awful lot of nettles around.
The bright orange-red berries of Arum (also known as Lords and Ladies or Cuckoo Pint) can be seen in several places on the Estate close to woodland this month. Please note that the berries are extremely poisonous!