Our Wildlife FieldThe field is managed to encourage local wildlife and bio-diversity.
During the last few months of 2017 we focused most of our energy on brush cutting the site and placing the spoil on habitat piles around the meadow perimeter. This revealed about a hundred ant hills of various sizes, a great achievement when compared with just three to five years ago. Each mound is the result of many lifetimes of labour by thousands of Yellow Meadow Ants (Lasius flavus) to create a hill possibly containing between 8,000/14,000 ants. The mound consists of soil from below ground which is excavated by the ants, particle by particle, allowing it to act as a storage heater from the heat of the sun, maintaining an even temperature and humidity inside. The foraging worker ants eat aphids in the soil or on roots, using the regurgitated drops feeding mouth to mouth to their mates and young. Each summer, usually in July, when the air is warm and dry there is a “nuptial flight” when some males and females fly out from the colony and after mating, the lucky ones which have escaped predators look for suitable sites to start a new colony.
The ant hills provide food for several birds, the most common being the Green Woodpecker, removing ants from the galleries with its long tongue after pecking into the ground. The mound attracts many other insects including the Common Field Grasshopper, preferring the light soil to lay its eggs. They also protect the caterpillars of several butterfly species in exchange for honeydew. The ants stroke the caterpillars to trigger the honeydew which is released by the caterpillars as a waste product.
Everyone is welcome to visit the meadow whenever they wish. As the seasons change so does our wildlife habitat, there is always something different to see, admire and talk about.