August 2021 Newsletter

HELLO

A warm welcome back to our Friends. Thanks so much for supporting the project.

August has been relatively quiet as many of us took a Summer break. As all locals will know the meadows have been cut. We held a super Bioblitz activity day at the beginning of the month. 

Read the full blog here and see the highlights below.

We’ve also been busy putting together a forthcoming article for the county-wide Flycatcher magazine. We’ll let you know when it’s been published!

THE CUT
 

The Church Commissioners carried out weed mitigation work in the middle of August by cutting and leaving the weeds. We put out the following statement: 

‘We are pleased to see that weed mitigation is being carried out currently on the meadows though we had not been informed it would take place from Friday 13th August. We have been in regular contact with the Church Commissioners and their land agents to raise concerns about weed control and appropriate management with a view to a longer term floodplain meadow restoration. We recommended a cut and collect in June which would have removed the seed bed, now seemingly to be left on the site. The Commissioners have not yet clarified their formal plan for how the land is to be farmed and how this current cut fits into that. We will communicate their plan as soon as we hear it. We will continue to push for an appropriate longterm floodplain meadows restoration plan that respects the environment and best practice. Best practice does not support the use of herbicides or ploughing which we have raised with the Commissioners.’

Agricultural work undertaken on this site is very much in the public eye. Some of our supporters made the following comments on social media:

Mary Bennett (local resident) wryly noted that topping the land to make it look tidier was not exactly land management.
Susan Crawshaw (forager and frequent walker of the meadows) raised concerns with the manner in which the cut was undertaken, ‘They seem to be cutting really, really close to the edges as well, which I thought they weren't going to do. And they're going around & around in ever decreasing circles which always makes me mad when I see it, as wildlife gets trapped in an ever decreasing island and can't escape, so gets squashed. It'll all grow again next year, as it's all seeded, but glad to see that it is being cut, but they need proper management. Thanks to everyone who's trying to get them to do something.’ Susan also found three dead flat rabbits in the top field after the mowing, presumably a consequence of  the method of mowing.
Jim Hardy (Hereford farmer and councillor) wrote, ‘What a waste of time and money! Everything has set seed so they are too late to prevent the docks and thistles etc germinating next year. And leaving all the cuttings to rot will only encourage the rank vegetation at the expense of the finer. Well done the Church Commissioners!’ Jim also noted that the mowing has destroyed winter habitat for all kinds of wildlife, in particular birds who would have enjoyed the ripe seed.

The Commissioners have not yet communicated their longer term plan though we continue to be in regular contact.

Photo by Ruth Westoby

BIOBLITZ HIGHLIGHTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Reptile survey.
Sunday 5th September.

We are planning to carry out a mini-survey for reptiles along the permissive path at the back of Park Street.  There are four commonly found species of reptile in Britain: slow worm, grass snake, common lizard and adder.  They are generally found in sunny places with a range of vegetation structures that offer places to shelter, open areas to bask and insect-rich habitats to feed.  Grass snakes are more closely associated with water, where they will feed on fish and frogs, and adder largely occur in more open heathy places.  The species that is most commonly encountered in garden environments is slow worm, which can turn up in compost heaps or undisturbed piles of logs or vegetation.  For the survey, we will be putting out ‘mats’ (small squares of roofing felt) along the edge of the permissive path.  Where reptiles are present they will be drawn to these to bask upon or shelter under.  September is an ideal time to look for reptiles – the days are cooler so they are less active and easier to see, but they have not yet gone into hibernation.  Walkers along the path are invited to check under the mats as they pass and record anything they see.  And if anyone in Park Street has encountered reptiles in their garden we would be very interested to hear.


Online public meeting (Postponed).
Monday 13th September at 7pm.

Project introduction and launch of membership programme. Expect presentations from members of our committee to give an overview of our aims as a lobbying environmental group. We have invited the Church Commissioners and their agents to present their plans for the site and have not yet received a response.

Apologies to those who have booked or hoped to come to our public meeting on Monday 13th September. We have decided to postpone the meeting. We had planned to use the meeting to launch our membership scheme and provide further information on the management plans for the site. It has taken us a little longer than expected to open our bank account and we are still working to confirm the range of speakers we hope for to enable a fully informed discussion. Please keep an eye out for rescheduling – and our newsletters for the latest information on the project.


Bird walk.
Keep an eye out for our next Bird Walk in early October.


Herefordshire Wildlife Trust City branch Online Talk: Wild Plants in Urban Environments.
Thursday 4th November, 7:30pm – 9:00pm.

Our friends at HWT City Branch have an exciting event coming up on “We walk, stroll, and run down our city streets, most often without noticing the wealth of wild plants beneath our noses. Join the Hereford City Branch of the Hereford Wildlife Trust for a Zoom talk by Dr. Mark Spencer, who will take us on an urban wild plant safari. A well-known forensic botanist, Mark Spencer is also keen to make us aware of the wild fungi, lichens, and plants which pop up through our pavements, through the cracks in walls, and along our kerbs. To find out more about Mark Spencer, have a look at his website and show reel at www.markspencerbotanist.com


HEREFORDSHIRE CLIMATE AND NATURE PARTNERSHIP

Herefordshire Council is creating a new Herefordshire Climate and Nature Partnership. Its vision is to achieve a ‘thriving zero-carbon nature-rich Herefordshire by 2030’. The purpose of the Partnership is to catalyse and co-ordinate new action to help achieve this vision, through steering and overseeing the implementation of Herefordshire’s Climate and Nature Action Plans. Membership of the Partnership is free and is open to any organisation or business committed to helping achieve the Partnership’s vision.
Photo by Elaine Underwood

YOUR SUPPORT IS INVALUABLE, PLEASE:

  • Come along to our public meeting
  • Send us images of the Meadows
  • Share this newsletter
  • Join us on Facebook and Instagram
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here.
  • Become a member of the Friends Group – details to be announced at our online meeting on 13th September 

Best wishes

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth, Will and all at Friends of Bartonsham Meadows

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