Totternhoe 2020 update

Despite the changes we have all had to face this year, our reserves team at Totternhoe have been busy ensuring wildlife and people can safely enjoy this natural space.

Reserve Update

2020 has been a very strange year for everyone, including the Wildlife Trust and our reserves. We saw our reserves being used more than ever, highlighting the importance of nature to people during the Covid restrictions. Totternhoe Quarry nature reserve did not get through the summer without suffering some damage. The main gates were damaged, with fences being cut in the reserve. Without staff or volunteers able to get out as normal, we are still catching up with the backlog of work. It’s not all doom and gloom, the reserve had a fantastic display of chalk grassland flowers, with the duke of burgundy butterfly enjoying the warm dry spring. We had reports of English partridge and corn bunting nesting in parts of the reserve, which are closed off to the general public and dogs. As the warm weather continued, so did the butterflies and in their numbers, with small blues and chalk hill blues having a very good year.  

Getting Back Out on Reserves

It was midsummer before staff were allowed back out on the reserve and it felt so good to be back!! The initial clean up took a day and I removed two Land Rover loads of rubbish from the reserve. It would have been far worse without the help of the wardens and the amazing community who helped to clean up the rubbish during lockdown.

The Wildlife Trust was awarded a small amount in Covid relief money to help get the reserves back on track. I put this straight into action, replacing damaged fencing and gates, making the reserve secure again. With volunteer work parties slowly getting back up and running, vital reserve management work is playing catch up. This winter will see a large amount of work taking place on the reserve.

What's Next at Totternoe? 

Next year looks more exciting than ever at Totternhoe. We are aiming to carry out our slow worm survey, 11 years on from the mitigation, which saw them moved from the new busway in Luton. We will have new students carrying out more studies on the butterflies and the impact of climate change on the reserve, and I will be out with our amazing volunteers continuing our practical work. I have been overwhelmed by the offers of help and support from the local community, from sheep checking to survey work. I cannot say thank you enough to everyone who has helped the reserve and me.

This summer saw more people discovering amazing wildlife at Totternhoe than ever before and I would love to carry this on. In 2021 I would like anyone who finds anything at Totternhoe to let us know and show off some of the fantastic pictures of wildlife taken on the reserve. Please do remember to visit our Facebook page ‘Wildlife North Chilterns Chalk’. https://www.facebook.com/groups/northchilternschalk

Some of you may have noticed that Wildlife and Communities Officer Sarah Cowling set up a virtual summer wildlife tour of Totternhoe. You visit the web page, pay £2.50 and receive a virtual guide with Sarah by using your QR code reader on your phone. This will be re- launched again in the spring so keep your eye on the notice boards. This is a brilliant activity for families, wildlife enthusiasts, school and community groups.