Wriiten by Graeme Davis
Another of Andover’s little known about nature reserves is a site called Swatton’s Field in Charlton Village. The site is located behind Charlton Park, beyond the BMX track, and with little parking. The main entrance is off Foxcotte Lane.
The reserve consists of remnant chalk grassland and mixed scrub providing great habitats for wildlife. Amongst the grasses plants like perforate st john’s wort, yarrow and wild basil grow. The grass itself is kept short by grazing rabbits which makes it good habitat for butterflies and other insects. 12 species of butterflies have been counted at the site, though the list is likely higher, and these include all 3 common skipper butterflies;large, small and essex. Marbled whites and meadow browns are found in good numbers amongst the longer grass. The blackthorn scrub, which is managed on cut rotation, is ideal for lepidoptera including the intricate swirly leaf mines (made by the caterpillar eating inside the leaves) of a micro moth called Bucculatrix frangutella. The rotting trunks and logs from these trees also provides food for the larvae of one of our brightest beetles, the cardinal.
There is a a ephemeral pond (a pond that dries up and refills) running down the left side of the reserve fed by the rivers tributaries. This provides ideal breeding ground for amphibians as predators are reduced. Common frogs and toads are regularly found among the long grass tussocks.
In the winter little egrets can be found fishing at the edge of the pond.