Whiteknights has around (ha) of species rich semi-natural grassland, an increasingly rare habitat in Berkshire and indeed nationwide. The areas of grassland to the east of Whiteknights Lake have a drier character, while those on the west side of the lake are lower lying and have a correspondingly damper nature, with some good ancient grassland indicator plants like Pepper Saxifrage and Adder’s Tongue Fern. There are also some recently established meadows that have been sown with wildflower mix, one close to Car Park 3 and another in the Harris Gardens. All are managed with a single hay cut each year, usually taken in August, with some patches cut later to provide shelter for late summer invertebrates such as crickets and grasshoppers. At the height of summer the meadows are rich in plant and insect life, with butterfly species including Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Ringlet, Common Blue and Brown Argus. Perhaps the most important invertebrate, in conservation terms, is the ground beetle Carabus monilis which is a priority species under the 2006 Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) act.
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