Last winter volunteers helped New Milton Town Council clear some of the scrub and Rhododendron from Barton Common. The Community Wildlife Project ran 7 fortnightly tasks over the winter 2014-5 for volunteers to come and help clear scrub using hand tools. This has created more space for wildflowers and insects to spread across Barton Common. This work was carried out as part of the Council’s Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement with Natural England through which the site is being managed more sympathetically for wildlife.
On Saturday 2 May a guided bird walk on Barton Common was led by the County Bird Recorder Keith Betton. 16 local residents attended and with Keith’s expert guidance picked up some skills in bird identification. Species seen and/or heard include whitethroat, blackcap, chiff chaff and dunnock amongst other common bird species.
This spring 5 New Forest ponies owned by a New Forest Commoner were released onto Barton Common to continue to graze the site. Grazing with stock maintains the grassland habitat that is so important for wildflowers and insects.
Barton Common is home to many invertebrate species such as marbled white and green hairstreak butterflies and heath spotted orchids, and these and many other species will benefit from the management taking place at Barton Common through the HLS scheme. Volunteers monitor the butterfly populations through a weekly ‘butterfly transect’.
Green hairstreak butterfly
Long Meadow continues to be managed more sympathetically for wildlife also, with the edges of the Becton Bunny being left uncut for spring and summer period. This has resulted in a number of wildflower species flowering including meadowsweet, yellow flag iris, hemlock water dropwort, brooklime, water cress, fool’s water cress and figwort. 3 species of damselfly have been seen this summer using the stream (azure/common, large red and beautiful demoiselle)
Beautiful demoiselle damselfly
Earlier this month the non-native and invasive ‘monkey flower’ (A Mimulus species) was removed from the edges of the stream. This plant is known to be invasive and can cause dense stands so please let the council know if this plant is spotted again. Although the roots were removed, the plant can reproduce from small fragments so it is likely to take several attempts to eradicate it. Whilst pulling Monkeyflower, several plants of another non-native and invasive plant Himalayan balsam were also removed.