Pamper time for the Dexters

Pamper time for the Dexters

The livestock on the reserve play a huge part in the management of the grasslands to create the suitable habitats that so much of our wildlife thrives on.  From butterflies, bees and other insects to small and large mammals and birds,  all rely on the diverse range of flora as well as sward (vegetation) structure. Our herd of 15 Dexter cattle keep us busy with regular routine checks and feeding, annual TB tests, moving from one field to another at various times of the year depending on the grassland objective and anything else they might spring on us such as needing a visit from the vet or needing a replacement ear tag.  As if that didn’t keep us busy enough, it was decided that they were well over due a pedicure!  None of our cattle have ever needed their feet trimming before but some of their feet had grown long, uneven toes and were developing cracks.  As a result of this, the girls were starting to feel a little foot sore. So, early one May morning the man for the job arrived,  fully equipped with a mobile cattle handling facility to ensure the process was as safe and as stress free for the cattle (and us!) as possible.   The cows, and volunteers, were ready and waiting. The girls were quietly encouraged into the pen, where they then walked onto the trailer and into the ‘cattle crush’.  The cattle crush basically is the part of the pen that holds the cows safely and securely for whatever the treatment might be, in this case, foot trimming. Once the cow was secured in...
Volunteers learn about spring butterflies at Ketton!

Volunteers learn about spring butterflies at Ketton!

On Saturday 28th May, Volunteer Coordinator and butterfly enthusiast Sarah Proud took a group of Rutland Water Nature Reserve volunteers to Ketton Quarry for the first session in a ‘Butterflies for Beginners’ course for volunteers. After a dubious forecast, the group had wonderful weather and managed sightings of 11 different butterfly species, as well as several specimens of the day flying moth, the Burnet Companion. Included in the butterflies was a stunning and fresh Brown Argus, which had an unusual variant that is often seen at Ketton Quarry. This male butterfly, no bigger than a 2p coin, had white smudges on its forewings, similar to those seen on the Northern Brown Argus which is found in the highlands of Scotland! In addition to this the group enjoyed views of Common Blue, Green Hairstreak, Brimstone, Large White, Orange-Tip, Small Heath, Holly Blue, Peacock and the rarely spotted Dingy and Grizzled Skippers! The walk was finished with and examination of the holes left by the larvae of Hornet Moths in some local poplar trees, an emergence that should start again this June. The next walk for volunteers is in June, when there should be even more species of butterfly on the wing. Hopefully we have fired up a passion for lepidoptera that will continue for a few more...

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