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Green Hill Farm ecological survey: autumn 2023 review

Russ writes:

This review covers the autumn period from September-November 2023, and follows on from the spring and summer reviews that included some background to the Green Hill Farm ecological survey and monitoring programme.


A nocturnal moth survey in the front fields on 06 Sept produced some interesting migrants and recent colonists coming to light, including a specimen of Portland Ribbon Wave that may only be the second record for Wiltshire, the recently established Vagrant Piercer Cydia amplana, and a migrant Delicate. Other notable moth species included the wonderfully named Old Lady!


Portland Ribbon Wave on 06 Sept 2023


Vagrant Piercer on 06 Sept 2023


Delicate on 06 Sept 2023


Old Lady on 06 Sept 2023


An acoustic bat detector was in operation during the moth survey on 06 Sept, and a dedicated bat transect covering the whole site was conducted the following night. At least five bat species were recorded and both Common Frog and Common Toad were seen, but the most exciting sightings were of Nightjar and Barn Owl hunting at dusk over the front fields. The Barn Owl appeared to have taken up residence on site, as it was flushed from its daytime roost in an old barn in the front fields later in the autumn and numerous pellets containing the remains of small mammals were found on the floor.


Common Frog on 07 Sept 2023


Common Toad on 07 Sept 2023


Barn Owl pellet on 09 Nov 2023


The September walkover survey produced a nice suite of raptors, including a juvenile Goshawk terrorising the local Jackdaws and Woodpigeons, as well as Red Kites, Buzzards, Sparrowhawk, and Kestrel. An influx of migrant Stonechats saw at least ten using the front fields, although by the time of the next walkover survey on 09 Nov most had moved on and just an adult pair remained on their regular territory.


The final walkover survey of the year in November was primarily focussed on fungi, and several notable species were found. The areas of woodchip around the reception area and on the woodland paths hosted both Blue Roundhead and Redlead Roundhead, as well as Common Bird’s Nest and the nationally scarce Gymnopus fuscopurpureus.


Blue Roundhead on 09 Nov 2023


Redlead Roundhead on 09 Nov 2023


Gymnopus fuscopurpureus on 09 Nov 2023


In addition to the wide variety of fungi found in the main woodland block, the presence of mature aspen, birch, and oak trees bordering the front fields ensure these areas also held a decent mix of mycorrhizal and saprotrophic species, including the familiar Fly Agaric as well as less familiar species such as Frosty Webcap, Orange Oak Bolete, Velvet Twiglet, and Woolly Milkcap. In addition, a specimen of the Scarlet Caterpillarclub was found, which parasitises moth larvae.


Frosty Webcap on 09 Nov 2023


Woolly Milkcap on 09 Nov 2023


Scarlet Caterpillarclub on 09 Nov 2023


The trail camera located in the main block of woodland was in operation until 31 Oct and continued to record up to 15 Fallow Deer and occasional Muntjac Deer, as well as Badger, Brown Rat, at least three Foxes, and numerous Grey Squirrels. However, the highlight was a Polecat on 18 Oct, the first record for the site.


Fallow Deer buck on 21 Oct 2023


Fallow Deer does with their fawns on 19 Sept 2023


Muntjack Deer buck on 18 Oct 2023


Polecat on 18 Oct 2023


As fieldwork commitments wind down for the year, attention will now focus on completing the 2023 annual report, which should be released online early in 2024.

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