Ox Drove Meadows is the most recent, and least known, of Andover's reserves . It is situated at the back of Picket Piece, and has a slight incline to climb up. Acquired by the council following housing developments, this former agricultural land consists of three hectares of north facing chalk grassland on a slight incline, at the rear of Picket Piece.
The site is surrounded by scrub, home to many rare butterflies and mammals, including the charismatic hazel dormouse. Recently, eggs of the rare hairstreak butterfly were found – hopefully indicating colonisation resulting from improved wildlife management.
A scattering of chalk grassland plants survive, like cowslips and bird's-foot trefoil. It is hoped the new management will allow more wildflowers to thrive. Despite only having a few years to 're-wild', it has attracted butterflies like meadow browns, common blues, red admirals, whites and small heath, the latter of which is a high priority species of conservation concern. There are a few daytime moths recorded at the site, like the very fast flying Silver Y and the slow fluttering Treble-bar.
A walk around the site consists of a loop from one access point to the next, benches along the way, give views across Andover and a welcome rest on a hot day.
In future articles, we will venture further afield to visit reserves within easy reach of Andover. Hopefully these reviews of our reserves have given you a glimpse of, and inspired you to visit, the amazing places we have in Andover.