The weather this year has not really helped our sites at all. Early storms and wet weather slowed all vegetation growth. However, towards the end of May everything changed and the grass became thick enough and needed cutting, or grazing as the case may be. We brought in the sheep and they proved to be good tenants once again, grazing the site margins and between panels to keep the grass down and providing suitable conditions for the development of species-rich grassland. Unfortunately, the sheep don’t seem to have much of a taste for the thistles that are flourishing in the shade underneath the solar panels! But lucky for us, the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) works teams continue to do exemplary work throughout the year cutting back these less desirable plants.
For a few weeks, we experienced drought conditions and this affected the grass, which looks now quite parched. Despite this the new pond remained with water for most of this period, permitting toads and Great Crested newts to take up residence there.
Moreover, there are good numbers of early berries on the hedges around the site attracting species such as the beautiful Jaybird. And a group of 4 leverets have been noted on the property, presumably making use of the safety the site provides. Also, the new gate, fencing and hedging on the south side of the site, have been successful in allowing the roe deer that are often spotted there to continue their visits.
We expect the ecological report for Braydon to show some positive signs on grassland biodiversity due to last year’s spreading of ‘green hay’ from one of the local WWT grassland meadows.
Due to the prohibitively high cost of installing sheep cages around the panels to allow for grazing, we will be continuing with mechanical cutting on this site. The new operations and maintenance contract with British Solar Renewables (BSR) is now in effect and BSR’s contractors will be undertaking the main grass cut shortly. A small section of hedge has been laid and will be extended over the winter period.