A 100 acre former quarry, now home to rare wildlife and habitats. The Wildlife Trust is managing The Chalk Pit as a nature reserve, The Chalk Pit holds many different habitats, including chalk grassland, a limestone lake, broadleaved woodland and wetland.
Wild orchids can be found, as can the Chiltern Gentian. Migrant birds arrive here to breed, such as the rare Turtle Dove. Summer brings butterflies including the Chalk Hill Blue. Great crested newts and dragonflies can also be found here in abundance, attracted to the pools and streams.
An interested group of about 20 gathered at Jordans Mill to listen to Steve Cham gives us an introduction to dragonfly and damselfly larvae, including a few pointers to help to identify them. As well as a slide presentation, Steve came armed with his collection of exuviae for each of us to hold and to take a closer look at under microscopes.
Dragonflies eggs hatch into larvae which live underwater for up to 5 years and are fierce predators, even taking small fish like sticklebacks. Steve explained that an exuvia [plural: exuviae] is the skin left behind after an adult dragonfly has emerged and flown, so they look just like the larva in its last stage of development.
Steve’s talk generated a lively discussion after which we had the opportunity to examine a few exuviae under the microscopes provided.
Duck End is the remnants of Maulden Moor and is a good all-round Nature Reserve managed by the Greensand Trust.
Three man-made ponds are managed particularly to benefit dragonflies but the site is also good for butterflies and birds.
Owned by Bedfordshire County Council and managed by the Greensand Trust with help from the Friends of Flitton Moor, the site is a good place for butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, grasshoppers and flowers. There is also a gentle perimeter walk around the site.
At King’s Wood and Rammamere Heath you can find displays of bluebells in spring and heather in summer. The rides in King’s Wood are good for butterflies and there is a pond which supports many dragonfly species.
The disused and flooded Felmersham Gravel Pits are managed as a nature reserve and provide a protected area for varieties of flora and fauna. It is an important bird sanctuary, both as a breeding site and for birds on migration. It has a good population of dragonflies, too.
The “felmersham.net” website has a page with a map.
Flitwick Moor is a SSSI wetland with an interesting mix of fen, meadow, wet woodland, and fragile peaty soils.
Following the 5-mile Two Moors Heritage Trail provides an excellent introduction to this site.
Priory Country Park is an established green area of around 360 acres made up of lakes, meadows and woodland, partially enclosed within a bend in the river Great Ouse.
It is managed, for the benefit of both wildlife and visitors, by Bedford Borough Council.
The RSPB reserve at Sandy is their HQ. It is a great place to go spotting birds and is also very good for dragonflies.
Managed by the Greensand Trust, this ex-quarry is a small area of scrub, grassland, ponds and lichen heath on dumped asphalt. Great Crested Newts occur on the site. This site is good for dragonflies and Butterflies in spring and summer and Lichens can be seen all year round.