At very short notice, because of the illness of the advertised speaker, Garth Lowe gave the Malvern Group an interesting talk on our much loved local nature reserve, the Knapp and Papermill at Alfrick.
Garth has lived near the Knapp all his life, and was once the warden, so he knows every inch of it as if it were his own back garden. The Leigh Brook runs through the reserve and floods from time to time, in 2007 so severely that a bridge and the bird hides were swept away and banks needed major repair work. Volunteers regularly help to manage the reserve with whatever maintenance work is needed. Very recently a new study centre has been built near the warden’s house at the entrance, complete with a purpose built bat loft – let's hope it is soon occupied.
Garth regaled us with pictures of the wealth of wildlife he has seen at the Knapp. If you visit you're likely to see many of the common birds - long-tailed tits, nuthatches, treecreepers, great spotted and green woodpeckers, buzzards and perhaps a sparrowhawk. Garth has unfortunately noticed a decline in some species, including marsh tits, bullfinches, pied flycatchers and spotted flycatchers. The kingfishers still nest in the river bank, although the location has changed. The moorhens have gone, probably because of predation by mink.
The flowers are spectacular, especially during spring in Big Meadow, which is full of hawkbits, oxeye daisies, yellow rattle and several species of orchid. Surprisingly, a Southern Marsh orchid appeared a few years ago and has now hybridised with the common spotted orchids. Butterflies appear on sunny days – holly blue, comma, red and white admiral, speckled wood, to name a few, but the numbers of small tortoiseshell are declining.
The 70 bird boxes in the reserve are used by birds, bees, hornets and even dormice! There are two badger setts and the ponds are full of frogs, newts and sticklebacks. Otters are present but rarely seen.
The next meeting will be on September 6th when Patrick Clement will talk about the Magic of Moths. There's a summer full of events - take a look at our website http://malverngroup.btck.co.uk/
Alison, Malvern Local Group