This was my first visit of the season around the reserve at Greystones. Spring seems always a bit slow to arrive up there, but the meadows were starting to come alive. The Cow Parsley was in full bloom on the Iron Age ramparts; meanwhile orchids (Spotted, Southern Marsh and Early Marsh) were all in bloom, as were some nice patches of blue Vipers Bugloss. It was a bit windy, but even so very few butterflies and dragonflies to be seen.
Attended a really interesting GWT course on Small Mammals and their ecology at Greystones Farm. After some background on British small mammals, we learned how to set Longworth traps and run surveys and also recognise small mammal bones from Barn Owl pellets. On a wet day our traps looked inviting, lined with bedding hay and furnished with a variety of different foods - for vegetarian voles, omnivorous mice and carnivorous voles - but placing them for a couple of hours in the afternoon we didn’t catch anything. However, some traps lines that had been set early in the morning were more successful, and we caught 2 Common Shrews, a Bank Vole and (very exciting!) a Water Shrew that had been foraging quite far from its normal riverside habitat. The mammals were sexed, weighed and returned back, none the worse for the experience. I thoroughly recommend the course and will definitely go on some more GWT courses. It was really good to see these mammals alive and close up.
Check out GWT courses at https://www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/courses
Back at Greystones today for a walk. Despite the windy day there were still some butterflies about in the sheltered spots. Several Commas around the brambles, Small Coppers and also some Speckled Wood butterflies. The meadows are growing back a bit after their July hay harvest haircut, allowing some flowering of Devils Bit Scabious, Silverweed and hawkbit. Four Little Egrets on the nearby gravel pit were a sign of the season.