Eastern Clay Working

 

Clay extraction in this area followed the the lower seam of shale clay used in the production of bricks and, as a result the working resembles an amphitheater. Patches of rush are present in the seasonal wet flush areas on the floor of the excavation.

The steep banks, being somewhat bare in places, provide excellent habitat for burrowing invertebrates to bask in the sunshine. Solitary bees also like this place to form their nests.

At the top of the banks we generally allow yellow ragwort weed to grow as this is the only plant that the cinnabar moth caterpillar feeds on. These distinct black and yellow striped insects are avoided by predators due to the poisons they accumulate in their bodies from eating the plants. It is not unusual to see compete plants stripped down to their skeleton by these veracious caterpillars.

The moth itself has a very distinct colouring with red markings to also warn would-be predators that it does not taste very nice!

Anthills occur amongst the low sward and these are maintained by grazing rabbits.

The area is very rich in Common Bird's-foot-trefoil which is the larva food-plant of the Common Blue butterfly. For a more detailed listing of the species found in this area of the site click here.