Heathland Management

Tuesday, August 27th 2019

Heathland is an important piece of the 'habitat jigsaw' at Foxglove. This year the Heather is spectacular and is one of the reasons for a new moth species being discovered last weekend.

The bright purple flowers are important for all kinds of invertebrates including ladybirds, bees and butterflies. There ares still many butterflies on the wing, the most common one this week is the Peacock which is often feeding on Devil's Bit Scabious amongst the Heather.

Due to its small size, the Heathland at Foxglove is difficult to manage. There isn't enough space to have a controlled fire as there is on the Grouse Moors nearby. The burning of Heather encourages new growth and helps to keep out unwanted species. The Exmoor ponies, Lark and Taurus, have grazed on the Heathland for a few days but they didn't eat the Silver Birch or Willow. Instead, much of this has been taken out over recent weeks by a method known as 'tree popping'. Staff and volunteers have used special tools known as a tree 'poppers' to lever out the unwanted saplings by their roots.

This has been done in all kinds of weather conditions from red hot sunshine to heavy rain and sometimes required digging with spades too.

It has been hard work but is good to look back and see the difference that has been made. It is also extremely satisfying when a large root comes up intact!

Thank you to everyone who has helped with this task so far, it is both strenuous and tedious but the results make it worthwhile. There is still more to be done. The hay meadow has now been cut and finally, the Exmoor ponies have been allowed into this area to 'tidy up the edges' and hopefully eat the grass that the tractor couldn't reach. Lark was first through the gate!

Swiftly followed by Taurus!


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