The warmth of the summer continues as August brings more hot temperatures, clear skies and not many opportunities to unfurl our umbrellas (except perhaps to use for shade!). These prolonged dry temperatures are now very noticeable in our local green, or more accurately yellow, spaces.
Panshanger Park has been suffering from the lack of rain. The grassland areas are dry and brittle with very little recent growth. This is to such an extent that the long horn cattle have been given some hay to supplement their diet as the grass isn’t currently providing enough nutrition for them.
The arid conditions across many of our habitats mean that our wildlife may be struggling too, so if you have a garden and are able to make some water available for wildlife please do.
Happily, the wetland habitats at Panshanger are still living up to their name quite well. Along the dragonfly trail, the adult patrolling dragon and damselflies are finding food and around the edges of the ponds and lakes, while across the site many of the nymphs are emerging from the water. Dragonflies and damselflies undergo an incomplete metamorphosis to become an adult – they don’t pupate like caterpillars in their cocoons do. Instead they ‘unzip’ themselves, or moult, from their exuvia (nymph exoskeleton) to start their flying adult life.
This warm, dry weather has been quite pleasant for us to enjoy the outdoors so when you’re out on a summer wander around Panshanger, feel free to bring your picnic along. However, please resist the temptation to bring a disposable barbeque along with you. We ask that no barbeques are used on the site at any time, but this is especially important to remember when there is so much dry grass which could easily turn into a large fire if a spark were to hit it. A swim during this hot weather may also be tempting but the lakes are cold, deep and dangerous – please resist!
If you’re looking for something to do during the rest of the summer then the free ‘Life at the Lake’ family events are taking place every Tuesday through August. These provide an opportunity to discover what lives beneath the surface of the lakes at Panshanger! Find us by the Dragonfly trail just down from Thieves Lane car park. For more information on these, and other, upcoming events please go to hertswildlifetrust.org.uk/events
Jo Whitaker is the Panshanger Park People and Wildlife Officer.
She works for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and her role is funded by Tarmac.
Abandoned damselfly exuviae (nymph stage exoskeletons) emerged from Kings Lake ©Julia Barton
Dry grassland vista looking towards Riverside cottage – the longhorn cattle are grazing in the distance ©Jo Whitaker