Perry Mead is a Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserve in the heart of the Somerset. This neutral grassland sits on the north side of Perry Hill stretching down to the meandering River Cary near Perrys Bridge where there is a small number of parking spaces.
I pass near this reserve on my way home after work, its on a quite cycling route and its is a good excuse for a stop.
To get to the reserve you follow the footpath from the road just up from the lay-by. This path crosses a field before entering the reserve through a pair of gates. There were twenty or so cows in this field and they immediately took a keen interest in me. I have walked through lots of fields full of cows before so I moved towards the edge of the field and carried on as normal. They picked up speed, so I looked at them and looked at the gate at the far side of the field and made a dash for it. They were encouraged by my demonstration of speed and started to charge down the hill. Luckily I just made it to the other side before the cows surrounded the gate. They were making the point – we know this is the only way back to your car.
From the lay-by car park the immediate impression is – yellow. The river is lined with yellow oilseed rape that has escaped the captivity of other fields. Feral oilseed rape seed can remain viable in soil for several years. I am not sure if I should like how it spreads along waterways but is does look wonderful and the bees seem to like it to.
This is not the only yellow as the reserve and neighbouring fields are covered in buttercups.
I will return in June when the buttercups should be at their peak.
The reserve is a favourite with the local deer. You can see them sitting in the long grass and shade of the hedgerow in the top field. Occasionally, one will break out and make a dash across the fields.
It has been a very dry spring and the deer come down to the watering hole in the middle of the reserve. However, even here the ground is dry and cracked. Peacock butterflies like the bare ground for its warmth.
The reserve is a good place to spot one of my favourite butterflies – the brilliant small copper (Lycaena phlaeas).
You do not need to walk far as they like the nettles and grass near the reserve entrance. Simply wait in the shade of the hedgerow scanning the buttercups for them to arrive.
The River Cary runs along the northern edge of the reserve and there is a small pond in a neighbouring field. This may explain the relatively large number of dragonflies on this grassland reserve.
This demoiselle was just a little bit too high in the tree to get a better picture.
To complete the set here is am Azure Damselfly photographed at Perry Mead last year. It is a bit early in the year for them to out and about yet.
I returned to my car once the cows had lost interest. If you visit Perry Mead you must also make the short trip to SWT Babcary Meadows.