Bentley Station Meadow
Bentley Station Meadow, Butterfly Conservation's reserve in the
north-east of the county, consists of nine acres of ancient wet
meadow, most of which had been overgrown with scrub. After purchasing
the meadow in 1992, Butterfly Conservation carried out extensive
clearance work. As a result the reserve now provides a diverse mixture
of habitats with conditions suitable for both woodland and meadow
One section consists of oak woodland with some scrub. Conservation
work has encouraged woodland flowers, especially violets and it is
hoped that this will provide a breeding area for Silver-washed
Fritillaries. Buckthorns have been planted near the railway line fence
to encourage Brimstone butterflies to breed.
Photo © Peter Eeles
|Photo © Tim Norriss|
The main part of the reserve forms part of a Site of Special
Scientific Interest (SSSI). At the entrance is an area of open meadow,
fringed with mature blackthorn that help to create the warm sheltered
environment that butterflies love. The many ant hills show that this
is indeed an old meadow, which has escaped agricultural cultivation.
Old natural damp meadows are rare to find and this one is in a superb
location. Lying at the western edge of the Alice Holt Forest roe deer
cross into it to graze.
The reserve is important as a nectaring spot and breeding place for
woodland butterflies, such as the White Admiral and the Silver-Washed
Fritillary, and moths such as the Broad- bordered Bee Hawk moth. Many
old sallows, larval food plant of the beautiful Purple Emperor, have
been retained in the central part of the Reserve.
The southern part of the reserve has a large open meadow area with
a range of taller grasses and nettles. The grasses are food plants for
the Large & Small Skippers, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers and Marbled
Whites. The nettles are the important larval food plant for colourful
butterflies like Peacocks, Small Tortoiseshells, Commas and Red
Admirals. Some areas of nettles are cut in the summer months to
generate new regrowth which is most attractive to egg laying females.
The cutting is done by butterfly enthusiasts in order to avoid cutting
nettles that are already being utilised by caterpillars. There are a
number of log piles around the reserve to provide hibernation sites
for butterflies that hibernate, like Peacocks.
|Broad-Bordered Bee Hawk|
Photo © Colin Baker
Photo © Peter Eeles
Flowers like bramble, devils bit scabious, wild angelica and wild
mint are an important source of nectar. In order to maintain a diverse
flora the reserve is grazed each autumn with cattle. There is also a
small pond which serves as a breeding habitat for dragonflies such as
the four-spotted chaser.
Regular winter conservation work parties keep scrub in check. The
bracken is cut regularly in the summer to reduce its density and so
give an opportunity for violets to increase.
Throughout the year a number of moth-ing sessions are organised to
encourage people to come to see and appreciate the variety of moths
that are present on the reserve. Most moths are nocturnal, so by far
the greater numbers of species are attracted into light traps during
the dark hours of the day that allow their safe capture and subsequent
observation at close quarters, after which they are released. It is a
great opportunity to photograph them before they are released, or soon
|Photo © Tim Norriss||Silver-washed Fritillary|
Photo © Peter Eeles
Funding from Natural England helps to
support a programme of educational access to our reserves. Visits can
be provided for both schools and adult groups. including leisure
groups like photographic societies etc. If you would like to know more
about their management please contact our Regional Conservation Manager, Steve Wheatley, whose details can be found on the Committee page.
Download Annual report 2016
Landranger reference: SU792431
More information, including access by public transport here.
Download Map of BSM Transect
Download Transect risk assessment
Download Reserve Leaflet (860 KB pdf file)
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