I visited some Rhos pasture meadows near Challacombe yesterday. Dartmoor National Park Authority describe Rhos pastures as follows:-
“Rhôs pastures are enclosed species-rich purple moor-grass and rush pastures. On Dartmoor they are found in valley systems away from the open moor, usually in a mosaic together with wet woodland, other species-rich grasslands and oakwood. Dartmoor has 1,200 hectares of this habitat, representing 20% of the English resource
The most distinctive plants of this habitat on Dartmoor are the meadow thistle, devil’s-bit scabious, heath spotted orchid and saw-wort, all colourful plants. They grow in amongst either purple moor-grass or sharp-flowered rush and there may be some creeping willow present. Other plants that can be found include ivy-leaved bellflower, lesser spearwort, marsh thistle, sneezewort, greater bird’s foot trefoil and marsh violet .
Rhôs pasture is home to marbled white butterflies, which can be abundant, small pearl-bordered fritillary and the highly protected marsh fritillary which is found in colonies representing about 20% of the English resource. One of Britain’s rarest damselflies, the southern damselfly, also occurs in a single Rhôs pasture on Dartmoor. The rare narrow-bordered bee hawkmoth, which feeds on devil’s bit scabious can also be found, often in association with marsh fritillary.”
The pastures will be in their full glory in a few weeks but already plants such as marsh marigold are flowering
Large red damselfly was on the wing
Small pearl bordered fritillaries were feeding in the fields
The hoverfly Sericomyia lappona was quite common
Willow warblers were singing from the hedges
Buzzards were flying overhead
And green hairstreaks were on the scrub and bracken
Glorious meadows, beautifully managed for their wildlife by the local farmers – I will be back later in June to have another look!