Race to see it
ASTON Clinton Ragpits is a tiny (7.28 acres) nature reserve of mainly hummocky grassland, representing pits and spoil heaps of former chalk quarrying (the name rag means chalk).
It is home to a multitude of different plants and invertebrates, including 10 species of orchid and 27 species of butterflies.
This wildlife paradise, managed by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, is best seen in spring or summer.
The entrance is at the base of Aston Hill near Wendover. This is adjacent to the start-line of the former Aston Hill Climb, a car speed event in which a certain Lionel Martin raced, and then combined the names to create the Aston Martin marque. Within the nature reserve visitors are advised to slow down because there is much to see in this extraordinary landscape!
Walk into the small mixed woodland, continue along a short path through two gates to the edge of the quarry. y. Stop, look andnd listen, and later ter taste and smell.
Spare a moment to view the Vale of Aylesbury, stroll along the narrow crisscross paths, taking care on the steeper ones. With all senses fully activated, you will be amazed.
At the end of April, I saw plenty: a tawny mining bee nest, yellow meadow anthills, jumping spiders, Roman snails, a red kite, a slow worm (actually a lizard), cowslips, primroses and violets.
Knowing that caterpillars are fussy leaf eaters, the violets suggest sightings of fritillary butterflies this summer. I heard birdsong, I tasted young salad burnet leaves (like cucumber) and I caught the scent of wild marjoram.
In June the strong insect-enticing fragrance of chalk fragrant-orchids will fill the air, and bees will be visiting the bee orchids with their bee-like flowers.
These observations represent only a snapshot of the interdependence of plants and animals.
Both groups will only thrive if they provide suitable shelter, appropriate food and means to reproduce, for each other.
Come to Aston Clinton Ragpits and let your senses go a bit wild, there are guided walks on June 6 and July 25, or just call in for an hour of bliss in this wildlife paradise. There’s more on www.bbowt.org.uk/ whats-on.
Gill Cornelius is from the Chilterns
group of volunteers for the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust