Welcome to our bumper issue – with steps already being made in the restoration of the Meadows, there is a lot to update you on and plenty to get involved in. Read on for:
- Friends of Bartonsham Meadows AGM
- Herefordshire Wildlife Trust management plan all mapped out
- Online survey is open *share your views*
- Got skills and enthusiasm to share? HWT volunteer induction dates to be announced
- Save the date and come plant with us! 18 and 19 November, and 2 and 3 December
- Cycle route update
We held our second ever AGM on Monday 18 September with a packed hall of 45+ supporters. After keeping you waiting while we sweated the technology Ruth gave a chair report and Dick a treasurer’s report. Ruth noted that both our two constitutional objectives will be met now that the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust has signed a twenty-five year lease with the landowners, the Church Commissioners, in May this year.
Friends of Bartonsham Meadow’s constitutional objectives are: (1) To restore the meadows as traditionally managed floodplain habitats; and (2) To provide environmental, educational and social benefits for the locality. Now that the Meadows are in the capable hands of the HWT, we feel that our objectives are in sight. We will continue our efforts to secure the success of this project by supporting the HWT to transform the depleted Meadows to a haven for wildlife. We want the Meadows to become a healthy functioning natural habitat for plants, animals and people.
We seek to place wildlife, ecology and heritage at the forefront of our efforts–and thereby a welcoming habitat for humans too. Hereford will be wild at heart and an exemplar of how humans and (other) wildlife can coexist in an urban environment. We recognise that this is a longterm project and will likely be decades in the making. Yet the benefits are already appearing–such as a refuge for birdlife and source of their winter food–and the project will serve Hereford for long years to come.Ruth Westoby, Fobm Chair
Events in the last year:
- Plant ID walk (2 Jan)
- Litterpick (5 March)
- Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and the Church Commissioners sign 25-year lease (May)
- May Day celebration
- HWT and Fobm survey *still open see below*
- Balsam Bashes (21 May and 25 June)
- Save the Wye (1 July)
- River Carnival (1 August)
- Big Butterfly Count (16 July)
- Monthly bird surveys (thanks the tireless Bill and Dick)
- Quarterly newsletter
We have a whopping 376 supporters at the last count (considering those signed up to our newsletter as supporters) and we thank all of you for your continuing encouragement.
Herefordshire Wildlife Trust Management Plan
Words: Anna Gundrey, FoBM Ecologist
The Herefordshire Wildlife Trust (HWT) have produced a detailed management plan as part of their application for Heritage Lottery Funds. David Hutton, HWT reserves manager for Bartonsham Meadows, gave a presentation at FoBM’s recent AGM.
The HWT proposes to create a mosaic of grassland habitats on the Meadows with the aim of maximizing its value for wildlife. The northern portion of site will be managed as traditional meadows, with the fields shut up until summer, when they will be cut for hay and then ‘aftermath’ grazed by livestock. The southern portion of the site will be left to naturally regenerate, but will be lightly grazed to ensure it remains open and does not develop into scrub. This habitat is developing nicely and is already supporting a rich variety of birds and other wildlife. The aim is to monitor the two habitats as they develop and gather useful data on the relative merits of each approach.
So where do people fit in? Clearly fences will be required if livestock are to be re-introduced and it will be important to separate livestock and dogs (for the welfare of both). However, HWT intends to retain a network of wide rides through the Meadows, including all the way around the edge. These rides will be wider than the existing footpaths and desire lines so a walk through the meadows should actually feel more ‘open’ than it does at the moment, where we are walled in by tall docks.
Other proposals include restoration of traditional ponds and hedgerows, tree planting and wetland ‘scrapes’. All adding up to a rich and diverse mosaic of habitats for the enjoyment of all.
David Hutton, the HWT Bartonsham Reserves Manager, shared HWT’s management objectives with us at the AGM.
Primary Management Objective
To manage the site as Nature Reserve to enhance and maintain biodiversity and to maintain public access for quiet enjoyment of the natural environment.
- Restoration of floodplain grassland and/or mosaics of related grassland communities
- Management and restoration of scrub/woodland habitats including veteran trees, hedgerows, in field trees and successional scrub
- Management of natural succession/low-intervention – monitoring zone
- Maintaining and encourage community involvement
- To educate and inform people about the wildlife and cultural history of the site
- Maintaining safe public access, as far as possible in balance with wildlife and biodiversity objectives
- Control of non-native invasive species
- To measure biodiversity, carbon capture and nutrient capture if funds are available
- Creation of wetland features including ponds and scrapes
- Monitoring key wildlife groups.
HWT have been running an online survey to gather people’s opinions on how the Meadows should be managed for. They have fed back the key messages so far – but don’t worry there’s still time to have your say. The survey remains open on the HWT website.
Results in so far
Over 60 people completed the paper survey and over 90 people completed the online survey.
– The majority (c. 70%) of people visit the Meadows for either walking (with or without dogs) and to be in nature.
– Over 70% get to the Meadows on foot
– Accessible footpaths and a wildlife watching hide were cited as the main measures that would encourage people to visit more as you can see from the diagram.
HWT Volunteer Induction
There are two simple steps to becoming a Hereford Wildlife Trust volunteer. You need to fill in a ‘Volunteer Form’ to express your interest and provide contact details and attend an ‘Induction’ session (either in person or online). HWT have completed their first induction for Bartonsham volunteers on Monday 25 September and more dates will be announced soon. We need volunteers for many tasks including tree planting, wildlife survey and monitoring, and path mowing – please do join a short induction so that we can get more hands on the job. Register here for HWT to contact you with induction and volunteering opportunities.
At the AGM David listed the sort of actions volunteers could help with. Fancy some cattle counting anyone?
Ways to Help
- Monitoring and recording wildlife
- Regular patrols and litter picking
- Tree and hedgerow planting
- Keeping paths open
- Livestock checking
- Work parties – balsam bashing, tree planting meadow management
- Leading guided walks
- Education/schools support
Hedgerow planting on Bartonsham Meadows
Words: Anna Gundrey, Ecologist
Dates: Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 November and Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 December
This November, we will have our first opportunity to volunteer on the new Bartonsham Meadows Nature Reserve. FoBM secured a £5000 grant from Hereford Council’s ‘Greening the City’ fund to restore the defunct hedgerow that runs along the track by the Green Street entrance to the Meadows. We also have 420 hedgerow trees being delivered from the Woodland Trust, to further boost this hedgeline. That’s a heck of a lot of trees to plant, but many hands make light work! Please come along for the marathon planting session on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th November (times TBC). We have a further two dates the following week (2nd and 3rd of December) to finish the job.
To join the workparty, you will need to register as an HWT volunteer. You can do this here.
Cycle Route at Bartonsham Meadows
Words: Jeremy Milln, City Cllr
Months ago I promised an update on the cycle route for this Newsletter and had expected by now to be able to share a draft design for consultation. The route past the Meadows is a strategic one, being the artery between the City Centre and Rotherwas and crucial to the effort to encourage active travel in Hereford and to facilitate NMiTE with growing student numbers.
Scheme development began about ten years ago when it became clear that dumping pedestrians and cyclists into the path of HGVs as they arrived off the new Canary Bridge onto Outfall Works Road was not ideal. Mark Edwards, the Council officer working on this at the time, has left and I have been dealing with Neil Batt (Programme Manager, Transport & Highways) who last year – in a meeting with Cllr John Harrington (then Cabinet member for infrastructure), agreed to apply some of the £600k Hereford Enterprise Zone active travel measures funding. The idea was that this could be designed and delivered quickly alongside the £1m Quiet Routes ATMs. Consultants Project Centre Ltd were commissioned to do the design work and they were advised to build on Mark Edwards’ work for a scheme of on line improvements rather than building a new route across the middle of the Meadows since that had been consulted in March 2019 and not found favour. However it was left open as to whether consultants wished to look at a possible alternative scheme for a route round the edge of the Meadows, ie passing immediately to the west of Wyeside Cottages on Outfall Works Road. Whatever was done would have implications for the Wildlife Trust and Church Commissioners and very probably Eign Works and the Cottages too, so needed to be carefully designed and considered. A scheme of improvement for the nearby bit of Harold Street, which also lacks pavement or cycle lane, would also be designed, being part of this key route.
Initially delays in designing the scheme were blamed on Balfour Beatty for not coming up with info about where the power for the street lights went but over recent months efforts to move the project along have not been responded to. I will continue to keep this in the spotlight and let everyone know when we have something to see.
Bird Survey – Record count for September!
Despite the drizzle, September’s bird count saw over 30 species recorded with the British Trust for Ornithology’s Bird Track, from a discreet reed bunting in the overgrown lower meadows (the free bird app Merlin is very useful!) to a buzzard, kestrel and a sparrow hawk hunting for their breakfast.
We (Dick, Bill and John) watched a pair of goosanders working the river either side of a little egret – interesting to see birds working together – but missed the greater spotted woodpecker that usually hunts here. (We only record birds seen during the visit.)
Here’s the full list: blackbird, blue tit, buzzard, carrion crow, chiffchaff, cormorant, dunnock, goldfinch, goosander, great- blue- and long-tailed tits, grey heron, house sparrow, jackdaw, kestrel, kingfisher, less black-backed gull, little egret, magpie, mallard, moorhen, mute swan, pheasant, raven, reed bunting, robin, rook, song thrush, sparrowhawk, starling, stock dover , swallow, wood pigeons, wren.
Calling all Artists!
A plan is being hatched to create some Bartonsham Meadows T-shirts and cards for Christmas. But first we need some artwork! We’ve left it rather late, but if anyone is feeling inspired, any beautiful meadow-themed designs that you would like to share will be gratefully received over the next month.
The Sylvia Short Educational Charity
This charity offers a grant to children to carry out fieldwork or other extracurricular educational activities. This could include environmental or ecological work, and if you know a child who might be interested in centring a project on the Meadows, it would be a wonderful opportunity to contribute. Perhaps a photography/art portfolio documenting changes on the meadow, or a study of how a particular species of wildlife is responding to the restoration….? .
The charity offers a £500 grant for a child (or £1000 for a group of children). To apply you must be aged between 4 – 19, be in need of financial assistance, and are attending a school or college in Herefordshire. Applications for the grant must be made by the school or college
Initiative: Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s Nature Action Network
– a place to share, learn and take action with others for nature across the county
Words: Tracy Price
Our Nature Action Network is a chance for everyone interested in taking action to make changes across our county so that we can help to put nature into recovery. You can get together to share what is already happening or plan for the future, learn from the journeys others are taking or support fellow members on their journey and take action as a collective group to help put nature into recovery.
We aim to involve anyone who is interested in helping put nature into recovery through making local changes. This can be anything from a small area on a street to a whole village/town or patch of land. We know there is already some great work happening across Herefordshire and some great suggestions as to what could be done in the future.
If you are part of a group of people, either personally or through work, that would like to join our Nature Action Network then please get in touch with Tracy on 07903 069185 or email email@example.com
Words: Mo Burns, Fobm, HWT City Branch and Tree Warden
Tuesday 3rd October | De Koffe Pot (upstairs), Left Bank
Event starts at 7pm with doors open from 6.30pm
We’ve got a great team coming in October to talk about their inspirational meadows restoration project at Mowley Woods, which Tony Norman led on and could be of considerable interest and relevance to FoBM and local members.
There will be a small charge of £3 to cover costs.
For more background info you can read: Mowley Wood Habitat Restoration Success Story
Toxic Chemical Waste at Sutton Walls Hill Fort
Words: Ruth Stanier, Friends of the Earth
Meeting at Marden Community Centre
(Marden Primary Academy – HR1 3EW)
Thursday October 19th, 7 for 7.30 pm
There has been concern for many years that toxic waste and fumes have been leaking from the Sutton Walls site, threatening to contaminate the nearby air, land and ultimately the River Lugg.
The intention of this meeting is to hear from various experts their current state of knowledge and for them to have an opportunity to pool their expertise and to discuss the weathering and wildlife damage issues at this specific site. This process will be enhanced by comparing notes with other, fenced, chemical dump sites in Britain.
The meeting will seek to establish a consensus on necessary monitoring, official designations, public safety liability provisions and environmental and crop safety considerations. There is also the question of whether climate change may lead to a worsening problem of water build-up inside the site leading to potential wall collapse, as happened dramatically at another site, Brofiscin Quarry, causing extensive pollution.
The meeting is for Herefordshire people who would like to discuss the current problems and future protection, to work together with environmental guardians forming a consensus way forward. All are welcome.
For background information please see PCBs: Forever chemicals – what lies beneath
THANK YOU FOR YOUR INVALUABLE SUPPORT
The restoration of the Meadows isn’t always going to be a picture of beauty – as the ‘wild gem in the heart of heart of the city’, it’s always going to be a bit ‘scruffy, as natural landscapes are’. However, as Poppy Wilkins photographed this incredible shot of droplet-covered web, there are always going to be pockets of life, constantly changing, which as a community we’d love to see and hear about. Please do continue to send your Meadow pictures, sightings and news to us.
Anna, Bill, Charlie, Dick, Gareth, Jen-May, Jeremy, Mo, Rhian, Ruth & Will