One of the many pleasures of working at The Donkey Sanctuary is having the great open doors at your feet when you step out of the office. With hundreds of visitors here today, the walkways and heart of the Sanctuary is buzzing with grandparents, parents and children all having a wonderful time. So many happy faces as they walk about in the company of donkeys and mules grazing in their fields.
As for me, I set off on a slightly different path. We are very fortunate to occupy around 400 acres of rolling East Devon hills in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which provides rich pasture for our donkeys and is also a haven for all kinds of wildlife.
My lunchtime walk took me further afield to find out how our patch of sunflowers are doing which were planted for the first time last year to provide a source of food for birds and insects that also call the Sanctuary their home. Whilst the patch hasn’t flowered yet, the walkways to the patch were alive with butterflies and bees feeding on the rich nectar from the wild flowers. The rows of sunflowers this year have been planted in sequence to get a longer display so well worth a walk to check how they are doing.
The bright colours of the peacock butterflies lured me to the tall thistles to take a closer look and marvel at their probing of the flowers to reach the nectar. Small white butterflies danced together in the air while gatekeepers took flight as I walked along having not seen them until the last minute as they blend in so well with their surroundings.
The highlight of my walk was seeing a common blue butterfly settle on a patch of clover as I started my walk back. Being such a small butterfly, it was down on my hands and knees to capture its beauty and marvel how lucky I was to see this butterfly which is becoming rarer in the south-west.
One of the reasons I was so happy to see this particular butterfly is because it is becoming rarer to glimpse, but also because the Big Butterfly Count is asking for help in solving the mystery behind the disappearing common blue butterfly. Perhaps you can help and log sightings of butterflies. After watching the butterflies and counting them, I registered what I found on the Big Butterfly Count website (see link below).
If you're visiting us this summer, enjoy the many walks round to see our donkeys and enjoy the wildlife that live in harmony alongside.