Summertime at Slindon
The long hazy days of summer bring swathes of wildflowers, clouds of butterflies and choruses of bird song. Slindon is a fantastic place to take a nature walk and enjoy the beauty of this wooded estate. The diverse mix of habitats from dew ponds, grasslands, ancient woodlands and open rides ensures that, whatever the season, there is always something interesting to spot.
The woodlands and hedgerows are full of baby birds taking their first flights from the nest. Skylarks can be heard singing their distinctive, warbling song while hovering over fields and the rich and varied song of blackcaps can be heard in field edges and in scrubby brambles. Swallows spend all summer in the UK and can often be seen flitting about overhead with their distinctive forked tails and flashes of white under their wings accompanied by their twittering trill. Soon the noise fades away as the birds turn to moulting. This is where they shed and replace their feathers with new ones after the tough breeding season. They are therefore the most vulnerable this time of year and will hide away. Try exploring the woods and see if you can find some.
Slindon is a great place to spot butterflies when the sun is shining. Early summer sees the whites take over with flashes of white fluttering along the edges of sunny fields or in woodland glades. Despite a brief lull in numbers of butterflies in June, there is still the odd brimstone, or speckled wood to be spotted. Soon bright flashes of orange can be seen as meadow browns followed by gatekeepers take to the wing. Glimpses of blue can be found in the meadows as the blue butterflies emerge, including the common blue and brown argus butterflies. If you’re lucky you may spot a purple emperor soaring high overhead in the Rise of Northwood project area. Their main caterpillar food plant is willow species. Not only are woods great places for the birds to hide, they are great for hiding from the sunshine. The shade of the trees can be a welcome relief from the blazing sunshine. See if you can spot some speckled wood butterflies enjoying the dappled sunlight.
Wildflowers can be seen swaying lazily in the breeze in our chalk grassland meadows or around field edges, the tall cow parsley and ragwort flowers standing proud over the rest of the flora. As the summer wears on however the bright green and flower covered meadows are replaced by tall, golden yellow grasses. The newly installed ponds will soon be home to many a dragonfly and damselfly. Why not spend see if you can find a pupae and watch to see if anything emerges. Dragonflies will take a couple of hours from emerging before their maiden flight.
Bats can be found across the estate at Slindon. They feast in woodlands and pasture but also need water, such as the newly restored dew pond at Bignor Top. Bats also roost in mature trees so the team at Slindon give the very best care to the veterans trees whilst identifying the next generation by creating space for veterans of the future to grow. Why not use the most of the long summer daylight hours to explore some of the many miles of public rights of way across the estate. On a clear day take in views from the top of Bignor across the Weald, explore what’s growing up in the Rise of Northwood project. Or take an evening ramble to look out for the bats that hunt at dawn and dusk.