For those of you who know and enjoy Stonepit Field at Great Linford, in particular the species-rich limestone scrape which gives the site its name, you may also like to visit Stanton Low this summer.
Two new scrapes have been created at Stanton Low using a similar seed mix to that used at Stonepit over 20 years ago – and already wildlife is flourishing. There are several hollows near the canal which are the relics of the nineteenth century limestone quarrying which took place here. Early in 2019, the topsoil was removed and subsequently Parks Trust staff and volunteers sowed the seed mix. Dominant in the seed mix is kidney vetch Anthyllis vulneraria which is the larval foodplant of Small Blue butterfly. The butterfly should be able to make the short hop across from Stonepit and colonise this new habitat. You will also find Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus, Salad Burnet Sanguisorba minor, Field Poppy Papaver rhoeas and Sainfoin Onobrychis viciifolia in these hollows. Also of note is Viper’s Bugloss Echium vulgare, a plant which is cropping up more and more in Milton Keynes of late.
When Helen and I visited one evening recently, we saw plenty of Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Marbled White butterflies and a fantastic number of bumblebees enjoying these nectar rich plants. Spoil from the two scrapes was mounded up close by and these mounds are now covered in thistles and teasels, which are another great resource for pollinating insects. The scrubby grassland surrounding the scrapes now regularly hosts breeding Grasshopper Warblers as well as the more abundant Common Whitethroat. Lesser Whitethroat has also been present.
I thoroughly recommend a visit to this new habitat. If visiting by car, park in the large car park off Wolverton Road near Asda (SP837417). From here, follow the mown path alongside the canal until you reach the two scrapes. There are seats and picnic tables right next to the scrapes.