The Shropshire hills are home to a fantastic array of flora, fauna and fungi.
Here are just a few nature highlights that have been spotted on Pontesford and Earl’s hill:
A wide range of invertebrates call Pontesford hill their home.
- -Wondering through the woods you may see butterflies such as Speckled wood and Large whites. In the fields around the hills and at the grassy summit of Earl’s Hill, small coppers and Gatekeepers can be found. In the middle of July, Grayling butterflies flock at the summit of Earl’s Hill. Small heaths and even marbled whites also gather at the top to enjoy the view.
- -If you are very lucky, you may come across a Giant Horntail. Despite their fearsome appearance, these 4 cm long relatives of the wasp are in fact harmless to humans. During a volunteer work party at the Cross Dyke, we were fortunate enough to see a female looking for a suitable spot to lay her eggs. Females lay their eggs in coniferous trees using their long stinger-like ovipositor and after spending nearly 5 years feeding on the wood, the larvae emerge
- -Two out the three lizard species found in the UK have been observed on or around the hills. During Volunteer work parties on the Cross Dyke, common lizards have been seen scurrying through the undergrowth.
- -In the fields around the hills, secretive slow worms have been found hiding among rocks and slithering through the grass
- -Walking through the woods, you are likely to hear the sounds of summer migrants such including various warblers,
- -Corvids including crows, jackdaws and the occasional raven have been seen flying around the summit of Earl’s hill
- -as well as the more commonly sighted buzzard, red kites and kestrels can be seen circling the summit of Earl’s hill. Also, in recent years, peregrine falcons have nested on the rocky cliffs of Earl’s hill.
- -While descending from Earl’s Hill, you may hear the sound of two stones being hit together. This is in fact the call of the stone chat that can be heard in the bracken and brambles growing on the side of Earls Hill.
- Dippers and grey wagtails can occasionally be spotted flitting above the Habberly brook
- –Grey squirrels can be seen scurrying around in the trees.
- – Deer have rarely been spotted, but evidence of their presence has been found in the form of their droppings. If you are really lucky, you may be able to spot one of these elusive animals. Roe reed, muntjac deer and even the occasional fallow deer have been observed on carefully concealed camera traps
- If you are really luck, you may even spot signs on otters in the Habberly brook that flows at the base of the hills.
- – Forest covers the majority of Pontesford hill. Deciduous trees such as field maple, oak, hazel and elder cover the lower part of the hill and along the bulldozer track. Approaching the summit, evergreen trees take over.
- -Depending on the season, you can be treated to a variety of wildflowers. The woodland round the back of Earl’s hill fills with bluebells in the spring. In the summer, Harebells, foxgloves, hawkweed and bedstraw colour the summit and surrounding fields.
Many fantastic fungi species grow across the hills. Check out our fungi gallery for some photos of what you may come across during your visit.