Silbe Nature Reserve
La Société has owned this reserve in the Quanteraine Valley since 1975, when it was very kindly donated by Mrs Elizabeth Silten. Two more adjoining fields to the south were added, the first in 1989 and the second in 1999. This makes the reserve quite a large area - over 5 ha. There are a diversity of habitats in the reserve, including a stream running through to a mill-pond making it a valuable reserve, both aesthetically and in terms of nature conservation. The main habitats are:
Hidden away in this quiet sheltered valley, many people will be unaware of the Reserve's existence, and for these very reasons it is well worth a visit. There are plenty of paths to follow around the site, and if you are quiet and patient you will see many birds, animals, insects and plants to enjoy in the peace and calm of this reserve.
1. Deciduous woodland
Much of the slope to the west of the reserve and a portion of the valley bottom is covered in a mixture of broad-leaved trees (Oak, Ash, Sycamore, Alder) all of which have been planted, many perhaps 30-40 years ago, one or two are older, and some more recent. They provide valuable shelter, nesting and roosting sites for birds. Smaller trees include Apple, Rowan, Medlar, Hawthorn and Elder, all of which provide flowers and fruit to benefit small mammals and insects. The woodland is also developing a good collection of fungi, and lower plants such as mosses, liverworts and lichens also enjoy the humidity and shelter provided. Bluebells, Primroses, Celandines and other common woodland plants can all be found beneath and amongst the trees.
2. Wet Meadow
Some of the areas alongside the stream are quite wet, but less species-rich as they have been more cultivated or disturbed in the past. However, the meadow in the middle of the wood contains at least three species of Orchid, and the field to the north has many rushes and sedges, and other colourful flowering plants such as Ragged Robin, Cuckoo Flower and St John's Wort, which are specific to this kind of habitat. The best time to see them is flower is mid-May to Mid-June. Cornish Money-wort, Gypsy-Wort and two species of Bulrush are other rare plants found on and around the stream-banks.
3. Scrub and Bracken
Although not a rare habitat in Guernsey, this provides shelter for small mammals, birds and invertebrates. It needs some control so that it does not become too invasive.
4. Rough grassland
Fields to the south and north of the area, and the wide path at the entrance, all consist of grassland of varying richness. With the correct management it is hoped that they will continue to increase in species richness, both of plants and their associated insect, bird and animal species. The short grass already supports various colourful Waxcap fungi, which are thought to be indicators of relatively undisturbed soil, and the grassy fields contain flowers such as Yarrow, Red Clover, Catsear, Wild Carrot, Vetches and Speedwells.
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Candie Gardens, St Peter Port, Guernsey GY1 1UG, Channel Islands.