June is when everything seems to grow so quickly. We have mown the paths twice and are clearing dock which has crowded out other wild flowers in some areas. We have also hand pulled a patch of bracken and cut back plants overhanging the paths. During out work we continue to hear a variety of bird song. The willow warbler is getting scarce in some areas but it is still a regular here.
The yellow rattle is slowly starting to colonise the meadow areas. This is a highly desirable plant for wildflower meadows as it is semi-parasitic feeding off the nutrients in the roots of nearby grasses, therefore helping to ensure grass does not take over.
Not as many insects around as previous years. We saw the pretty sawfly, Tenthredo mesomela, with its apple green body and black back. It takes pollen (mainly from buttercup, which is abundant here) and nectar from umbellifers as well as eating small insects.
Perhaps the most interesting insect species seen so far this month is the Cave Spider (Meta menardi). This is one of the UK’s largest spiders. Several live in the old concrete water tank under the Bargoed Natural Burial sign. They are not rare but as they spend their whole lives in dark places they are rarely seen. They are actually repelled by light. They produce egg sacs that are tear-shaped white pendants hanging from the side or roof of the habitat by a silk thread approximately 20 mm long. The sac (2–3 cm in radius) contains an average of 200/300 eggs.
Butterfly species seen this month include large skipper, small heath, red admiral, orange tip, specked wood, large and small whites and painted lady. The beautiful Herald moth was disturbed from under the grass whilst digging. Day flying moths seen included the pretty silver ground carpet moth (the most abundant of the moths so far), the tiny Grass Veneer and several Yellow Shells.
The Broad Bordered Chaser posed well for several photos. The Emperor Dragonfly stayed around for a while but was too fast for the camera. This is one of the UK’s largest dragonflies and described as ‘the bulkiest’. It is usually found near ponds and lakes but there is no body of water here so must have been passing through.
Alt-y-garreg is a 20-acre nature reserve created in 2010 from four fields that had been improved pasture. There are areas of new woodland (over eighteen thousand trees of eighteen native species), wildflower meadows, scrub and ancient hedgerows. Two of the fields are now a natural burial site. The area is teeming with wildlife.