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Welcome to the West Wickham Commons Newsletter covering West Wickham Common and Spring Park. FacebookTwitterYouTubeWebsiteEmailHow do butterflies survive the winter?
There are a few butterflies which can be spotted in the early months of the year, signaling that warmer weather is on its way. Sunny days can often wake butterflies that have survived the winter. Technically insects don’t hibernate, rather they go into a state of dormancy. The majority of butterflies and moths will overwinter or hibernate in their larval stages (caterpillars), followed by the pupae (chrysalis), eggs and lastly as adults.
Five of our 59 resident species of butterfly spend the winter as hibernating adults. These butterflies will opt for dark places where there is a steady temperature throughout the day and night which is why you might see them in loft spaces, garages and garden sheds. In nature, they seek hollow trees, tangled plants and natural cavities. Even nestled away, hibernating butterflies are not totally safe from predators – their winter roosts are often shared with bats, spiders and birds, sometimes sleeping just inches away.
The emergence of these early butterflies is connected to the first spring flowers like primrose, violets and dandelion, giving them the perfectly-timed nectar to start their flight seasons:Small tortoiseshellBrimstoneCommaPeacock Red admiralTales of the long-tailed tit
A winter highlight across Spring Park and West Wickham Common is the large flocks of tits that can often be heard twittering through the tree tops before you spot their silhouettes flittering from branch to branch in search of a tasty morsel. Look carefully and you should see the distinctive tail of the long-tailed tits amongst the more familiar great and blue tits.
Long-tailed tits are extremely social birds; in the winter they opt for communal living (often branches bow in the weight of the number of long-tailed tits huddled together for warmth) and when it comes to nesting season, they work in pairs to bed down for the arrival of new chicks. The male and female work together to build an elaborate nest, taking nearly three weeks if it’s early in the season, or doing a rush job of less than a week, if it’s getting late.The nest is shaped rather like a bottle, usually with a roof and an entrance hole near the top. They construct it in a bush or in the fork of a tree, from moss, camouflaged with lichen with interwoven cobwebs and sometimes bits of paper stuck on the outside. To make the inside cosy for the eggs and chicks, a feather lining is added. They need a lot of feathers – as many as 1,500 collected from stray feathers or plucked from dead birds they find. Old nests are usually only found when hedges are laid in subsequent years, revealing a fascinating glimpse into the lives of these charismatic little birds!Wellies required!
Over the last year, packed parks, congested roadsides and now mud-entrenched paths have become the norm across green spaces in the UK; the stresses and strains placed on already popular green areas are starting to show.
The wet winter has made the situation worse, with muddy paths, erosion (where desire lines have appeared to avoid mud) and trampling on wildlife-rich woodland and grassland. Whilst it is a fantastic outcome of the national lockdown that many more people have sought daily walks in nature, the impact of so many visitors is compacting the soil, damaging the fragile filaments of fungi and tree roots otherwise hidden from view but so vital for healthy ecosystems. As managers of these woodland sites, it is the City of London’s legal duty to protect the wildlife and habitats found here and to keep these spaces safe and open for those who need them right now. Therefore, we are asking for visitors to stick to the paths, wear wellies to help with the slippery sections and for people to not to travel to these sites from outside their local area.
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The City of London Corporation has seven green spaces in South London and Surrey covered by three charities: Ashtead Common, Coulsdon Commons and West Wickham Commons. Each charity has its own Newsletter and you can now:
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