‘Wildlife Sites’ are the important sites in Aylesbury Vale where wild plants and animals flourish. They include hay meadows and pastures, wetlands, heath land and woodlands. Many wild areas have been lost over the last few decades and protection of those which remain is vitally important.
Akeley Village has a local wildlife site. The conservation of these sites depends upon voluntary sympathetic management and the support and enthusiasm of the Wildlife Site owners and managers. The following has kindly been written by the biodiversity officer:
“Akeley Recreational Field is an example of a beautiful wildflower meadow community, once common in our landscape but which has all but disappeared in the last 50 years. Its position in the centre of the village provides a fabulous opportunity for the local community to enjoy it and learn about the ecology of the site.
The area of greatest floral interest is at the top of the slope. This area most closely resembles National Vegetation Classification (NVC) MG5 grassland. This is the predominant unimproved lowland neutral grassland community, and what most people think of when they picture a wild-flower meadow.
Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris), Bulbous Buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus), Lesser Knapweed (Centaurea nigra), Pignut (Conopodium majus), Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis), Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), Bird’s Foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Glaucous Sedge (Carex flacca), Lady’s Bedstraw (Galium verum), Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis), Field Wood-rush (Luzula campestris), Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), Cowslip (Primula veris) and several spikes of Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) can be found here. There are also a number of interesting grasses such as Quaking Grass (Briza media) and Downy Oat-grass (Helictotrichon pubescens) present on the site.
The presence of this community has a hugely beneficial effect on other wildlife. There are startling amounts of butterflies in the summer and the rare Chimney Sweeper moth which feeds on the Pignut. Grass Snakes have also been recorded.”
Since the site has been designated a Local Wildlife Site, the Parish Council has put in a tremendous amount of effort to improve its condition for wildlife. It has altered the cutting regime to benefit the flowers, removed trees, transplanted flowers from more regularly cut areas and introduced locally gathered Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor). This pretty little plant is parasitic on grasses, suppressing their growth and allowing wildflowers to gain an advantage.
Its efforts have resulted in a marked increase in the number of flowers. If the regime is continued the site will continue to develop and provide a wonderful resource for both people and wildlife for years to come.
Monitoring of these important sites is crucial so that the effects of management can be assessed. If you are an enthusiast for birds, butterflies, plants or any other type of wildlife you can help to identify sites which may be rich in wildflowers Matt Dodds can then go and survey them, usually with the person who found it. Please email Matt at email@example.com or call him on 01296 427972 and he will be pleased to discuss this with you.
For further details contact the Parish Council works liaison person Mrs Frances White on 01280 860656.
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