Nature network update – May 2024


Nature enhancement is a key part of our ongoing work to conserve and enhance the Dedham Vale National Landscape & Stour Valley. 

Our Nature Network Officer, Alex Moore da Luz, provides a round-up from all of our nature enhancement projects and volunteer work parties for May 2024.

1 Chelsworth

The volunteers helped to remove tree guards from trees planted alongside the river Brett. Conditions here for the trees have been perfect and their rate of growth has been exceptional.

Around 1,000 trees were planted here in 2019 consisting of 20 native tree and shrub species. They will provide an amazing amount of pollen, nectar, fruit and seeds for wildlife into the future.

It was no coincidence that we saw lots of Brimstone butterflies flitting around us whilst we worked – we had planted their two-favourite larval foodplants (Purging and Alder Buckthorn) in the mix of trees.

2 Long Melford & Liston

Here’s Greg (above), our Nature Network Assistant, tackling more giant hogweed in Liston. We were doing the rounds digging out plants at multiple sites in the area where giant hogweed is still holding on.

It can take years to eradicate the plant from sites where historically it has been left to flower and seed over multiple years. With perseverance you do get there in the end!

3 Higham

Heroic efforts from the volunteers who braved some miserable conditions to dig out more giant hogweed from a wet woodland site in Higham. This was round 2 for this year after the first visit in March.

This is a floristically rich wet woodland site and the removal of giant hogweed will help to safeguard some of the wildflowers for years to come.

4 Sighting of the Month – Cuckoo

It’s much more likely you will hear a cuckoo than see one but when you do its strikingly obvious that it’s something a bit different! Greg and I spotted a Cuckoo in Liston whilst on the hunt for Giant Hogweed.

It has a long tail and pointed wings. There are some similarities to sparrowhawks and kestrels but once you get your eye in it’s obvious it’s a cuckoo! 

One of the reasons for their decline is a reduction in one of their favourite prey items – big hairy caterpillars which they are able to slice up and remove the toxic parts before eating.

5 Gardening for Wildlife

Everybody has a part to play in helping nature to flourish and I believe doing our bit for wildlife starts at home regardless of where you live.

Some of us are fortunate enough to have a garden like Simon Amstutz, National Landscapes Manager, who has kindly provided a image of his Colchester garden after No Mow May.

Allowing grasses and wildflowers to grow helps insects and other wildlife immensely and brings your lawn to life! Read more advice on our website.

6 Volunteer Work Parties in June 2024

  • 7th June – Viking Forest, Shotley – Stag beetle pyramid building
  • 14th June – Giffords Hall / Shelley Hall, Higham – Himalayan balsam control
  • 21st June – Location tbc – Stag beetle pyramid building
  • 28th June – Giffords Hall / Shelley Hall, Higham – Himalayan balsam control