Led by Matt Andrews.
Knocking Hoe is a 7.7 Hectare reserve near Pegsdon managed by Natural England.
This was a superb day out and members should not miss an opportunity to visit in the future. Matt led us 500m down a small farm lane there, listening to birds, to the farmyard below Knocking Hoe.
We saw here an ichneumon wasp and barn swallows then climbed the hill to the reserve itself. This consists of a prominent conical hill with several acres of chalk grassland behind leading to the down’s crest. There are old strip lynchet fields and a nearby long barrow.
As soon as we reached the reserve we saw a Green Hairstreak. As we climbed the hill we were stunned by the number of orchids and other rare flowers. The specials of the site are the Burnt tip Orchids, found in small mesh protected enclosures, but Common Spotted, Bee, Pyramidal and Fragrant were plentiful. We found the other reserve highlights – Pasque flower, Field Fleawort, Clustered Bellflower and Moon Carrot. Lunch near the hill’s apex proved difficult for fear of crushing the yellow rockrose which carpeted the hill. Scabious, horseshoe vetch, mignonette, houndstongue were also there.
Butterflies were seen mostly behind the cone and included small heath, painted lady, and common blue also Silver Y and Burnett moths. We ascended to a small inexplicable area of marsh near the crest of the down where there were
common spotted orchids. Opposite, on the fence at the reserve margin we watched a Kestrel eat its yellow (hammer?) prey. Buzzards circled above.
A short distance from there we entered the wood on the hill crest, just outside the reserve where Matt’s promise of helleborines was fulfilled. We were thrilled to watch two spotted flycatchers darting off a branch in the depths of the wood.
Returning down the fence at the edge of the reserve we could see the field lynchets below. Leaving, we descended along the edge of a steep valley rimmed by woods where candytuft grew. The walk ended at the ‘Live and let Live’ which was remarkably located where we parked.
We greatly appreciated the Matt’s leadership at this impressive site.
Trip report by Julian Lambley