Long evenings, warm sunshine, even the odd thunderstorm: it’s summer in the Meadows. Welcome to the June edition of the Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter.
LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE Negotiations are still ongoing between the Church Commissioners who own Bartonsham Meadows and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust on the terms of a long lease. We have been in touch with the Church Commissioners to request cutting and removal of the thriving weeds before they add to the seedbed, but no response. In the meantime that’s lots of food for the birds. Herefordshire Wildlife Trust too have communicated the need to top, and the Church Commissioners have told them they will look into it.
WE NEED YOU!
To help create the change we want to see on the Meadows please could you fill in our survey? This is vitally important to get the data we need to understand how the Meadows are used and the support for biodiverse floodplain restoration right here. We need this data to inform our campaigning and funding. Please fill it in and share widely 🙂
PARK STREET MINI-MEADOW AND ORCHARD Anna Gundrey, chief advisor, with Sally Webster from Verging on Wild doing a quick survey of how things are coming along and instructions to the grass-mower taking the picture at the end of Park Street
Words by Anna Gundrey
Over the last two years we have been carrying out various surveys of the Meadows to understand what its current ecological value is and provide a baseline to allow future management for nature conservation to be targeted appropriately. As part of this survey programme a group of us had a walkover of the Meadows in June to assess the vegetation coverage and record the extent of the weed coverage. I am sure no one will be surprised to hear that we found that across the Meadows there was approximately 70% coverage of ‘injurious’ weeds. The field closest to Canary bridge, Ox Pasture, is particularly striking, as it has almost total cover of broad-leaved docks, with other species restricted to path edges. Some have a bit more variety to them – the central field (which includes the row of oak trees) has a good cover of mixed grasses growing in it, but lurking below was an abundant crop of creeping thistle.
Injurious weeds, as prescribed by the 1959 Weeds Act, are native species that have been deemed to cause a problem to farming productivity. There are five species listed in the Act. These are broad-leaved dock, curled dock creeping thistle, spear thistle and common ragwort. All too clearly these plants, as native grassland species, have a rightful place within a meadow habitat they can soon get out of control if the land is not managed sympathetically as we can see all too clearly at Bartonsham. We have all five species on the Meadows, with broadleaved dock and creeping thistle being the most dominant. Both these species grow readily from root fragments and have capitalised on the inappropriate cultivation of the Meadows.
Both these species support a range of invertebrate species – look out for the painted lady butterfly which is on the wing at the moment and whose caterpillar food plants include creeping thistles – and the seeds are valuable forage for birds such as finches. But a virtual monoculture of any plant species is rarely good news as it lacks the variety of structure and range of feeding opportunities that a mixed habitat can supply. That is why a well-managed flood-plain meadow is so beneficial to wildlife . A good example can support up to 43 plant species per sqm, and with that botanical variety comes invertebrate diversity and so-on up the food chain.
MONTHLY BIRD SURVEY
Dick Jones and Bill Laws are on the case. This month (20th June) they spotted:
|blackcap||lesser black-backed gull||robin|
|blue tit||lesser whitethroat||rook|
|carrion crow||long-tailed tit||sand martin|
|greater spotted woodpecker||mandarin duck||swallow|
|herring gull||mistle thrush||swift|
|house martin||moorhen||wood pigeon|
|house sparrow||mute swan||wren|
HISTORIC FLIGHTS OVER THE MEADOWS
Bill Laws directs our eyes skywards this month.
This July marks a significant event in local aviation history: the fatal aerial bombing of Rotherwas’ munitions factory.
At six a.m. on a bright, clear morning eighty years ago a German Dornier flew over the Meadows and, moments later, dropped two bombs on the factory.
“I saw the bombs come out,” Ken Hursey, the son of the camp’s police superintendent, told me in 2001. “I watched the third bomb bounce along the ground, clear the perimeter fence and bounce straight into the front of our house.”
Ken was the only survivor in a house of six people including his parents. Inside the factory another 17 workers were killed, and many more were injured.
September 3rd, however, heralds a happier chapter in aviation anniversary. In 1913 pioneering aviator Benfield C Hucks landing his £1,200, 80 hp Gnome Bleriot monoplane on the Meadows and for the next two days performed aerial displays (Hucks is credited with perfecting the loop-the-loop manoeuvre) and carried fare paying passengers on a £5 solo flight over the city.
With war looming, Hucks and several fellow pilots who were based at Hendon, toured the country to persuade politicians and the public to invest in aerial warfare. Hucks flew through the war and died of pneumonia after contracting Spanish flu on the last day of war.
The images, kindly loaned by Derek Foxton, show Hucks on The Meadow ‘by kind permission of the Mayor’. We have yet to work out which was ‘The Meadow’ on which he landed.
JABA Balsam Bash and Litter Pick
Sat 2 AND Sat 9 July 10.30 at Victoria Bridge, Bishops Meadow or find along the riverbank. Please help out! Gloves provided.
Sat 9 July 5.15pm come and talk with us and attend the screening and discussion of RIVER at the Courtyard. Save the Wye is screening of the amazing film River followed by a panel discussion on the state of the Wye. Tickets: www.courtyard.org.uk Trailer: www.river.film Part of the Wye July campaign: https://www.fouw.org.uk/wyejuly This beautiful film celebrating the world’s rivers is written by adventurer Robert Macfarlane and features music by Radiohead, Jonny Greenwood, Richard Tognetti and William Barton. It has won prizes for its sheer beauty and innovative cinematography – drones, satellites and conventional filming make it a unique experience. Throughout history, rivers have shaped our landscapes and our lives; flowing through our culture and our dreams. RIVER takes us on a journey through space and time; spanning six continents, it shows rivers on scales and from perspectives never seen before. Its union of image, music and sparse, poetic script creates a film that is both dream-like and powerful, honouring the wildness of rivers but also recognising their vulnerability. From the Director of SHERPA and MOUNTAIN.
Tues 2 Aug 6.30pm
Delve into the history of our Meadows, from the Scots army encampment during the Civil War to the busy river wharves of the 19th century, with Bartonsham History Group. Meet by the Meadows gate on Green Street.
Annual General Meeting
Mon 22 Aug 7pm FoBM AGM (venue TBC)
Please come to our Annual General Meeting! We warmly iinvite for all interested in the future of the Meadows as a carbon capture, wildlife-friendly, community enhancing, managed floodplain. Please come to support and learn more about how we can achieve this aim together at our first AGM on. Venue to follow in next newsletter.
YOUR SUPPORT IS INVALUABLE. PLEASE COULD YOU: - Continue to send us your pics and updates on the meadows - Consider becoming a supporting member here - Share this newsletter with friends and neighbours
Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will