April 2022 Newsletter

HELLO
Welcome to our April newsletter!

LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE 

The Friends group is pleased to report that negotiations are continuing between the land owners, the Church Commissioners, and Herefordshire WIldlife Trust (HWT) as the prospective tenant. Discussions on the terms for a long lease are getting into the fine detail of biodiversity net gain and carbon credits and will take some time to conclude-  we hope, with the HWT as the incoming tenant. HWT are currently drawing up an application for a mid-tier stewardship scheme. This would fund, in the long-term, a species-rich floodplain meadow restoration scheme which would initially see arable reversion take place probably next year. Lottery funding will also be sourced as an important income stream.. Dŵr Cymru, Welsh Water, are also interested in supporting the project in the interests of water purification and natural flood management. 

This is all very exciting but nothing will change on the ground in the next year. This coming year will see the continued gentle ‘rewilding’ from an arable or fallow basis, and the Friends group will continue to carry out baseline surveys of flora and fauna this year, and encourage the landowners to top the flourishing weeds.  


In the medium term, the Wildlife Trust’s HWT’s management plan would see floodplain restoration and perhaps scrapes. In the longer term it may be possible to restore ponds and wetlands.

What can we do?

Delight in this stunning resource on our doorsteps and perhaps help get rid of the balsam. See below for dates of balsam bashing.

Shots below by Lisa Stevens and Elaine Underwoood.

REPTILE SURVEY

We’ve laid the mats and are checking them with huge excitement. You’re welcome to check them yourselves and report your findings. Check the instructions in the poster and please report your findings on this form.
Plotting the reptile mats by Bill Laws

BIRD SURVEY FOR APRIL

Blue tit 5
Great tit 6
Long-tailed tit 3
House Martin 3
Swallow 1
Robin 6
Crow 8
Mallard 20
Goosander 5
Grey heron 1
Magpie 5
Mute swan 1
Greater spotted woodpecker 1
Blackcap 3
Goldcrest 1
Wood pigeon 32
Wren 10
Greenfinch 2
Collared dove 2
Song thrush 1
Chiff chaff 2
Willow warbler 1
Lesser-black backed gull 9
Jackdaw 1
Blackbird 6
Moorhen 1
House sparrow 3
Bird survey for April

“We were surprised not to hear skylarks which had been calling intermittently. Hoping this is no more than a temporary absence.”

Dick and Bill

EVENTS

JABA balsam and litter picking event

  • 14 May at Bishops Meadows, St.James’ Community Association balsam bash and litter pick on Saturday May 14th from 10.30 at Bishop’s Meadow riverbank, King Georges Field at Victoria Bridge. See http://www.jaba.org.uk/.

Friends’ group balsam bashes

We are in the process of checking permissions with the landowners and Natural England to hold public balsam bashing events. If we can get the paperwork in place please join us!

  • 22 May at Bartonsham Meadows, Friends Working Group, meet at Green Street entrance to Meadows, 2pm. 
  • 12 June at Bartonsham Meadows, Friends Working Group, meet at Green Street entrance to Meadows, 2pm.

AONB’S Invasive Species Week

Check out the Wye Valley’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)’s detail on Invasive Species Week here 

Bartonsham History Group

  • 3 June afternoon. Bartonsham History Group will commemorate this street party from 1953. We’ll be there to wax lyrical about floodplain restoration. And eat cake.
  • Check out their website here

Save the Wye

Events are planned along the length of the Wye on the second weekend of July. Watch this space… 

Docs getting off to a healthy start by Ruth Westoby

CALL OUT

As always, if you could do any of the following we’d be super grateful:

  • Share this newsletter 
  • Join us on Instagram and Facebook
  • Become a formal member of the Friends Group – sign up here
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here
Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will

March 2022 Newsletter

With the clocks going forward, and recent warm sunshine, spring seems to have sprung and we welcome you to the current edition of the Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter.

Photo Credit: Elaine Underwood
LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE 

Negotiations between Herefordshire Wildlife Trust and the Church Commissioners are ongoing. 

Ruth’s discussion of the work of FoBM with the HWT’s Conservation Committee was apparently well received. 

GRASSLAND CARBON

For anyone who wasn’t able to attend the recent online discussion ‘Grassland Carbon – restoration, creation and management practices that affect carbon sequestration in grasslands’, a recording of the webinar is now available on the Plantlife YouTube Channel here. Two experts took part, Penny Anderson BSc., MSc., CEcol, FCIEEM, Ecologist, drew on her 2021 review on this topic. ‘Carbon and ecosystems: restoration and creation to capture carbon’ also focused on addressing the biodiversity crisis and incorporating other ecosystem services. 

Phil Wilson PhD MCIEEM, Ecologist and Devon farmer, talked about data he is publishing from over 1400 NE and landowner grassland sites across the UK. This includes analyses of soil nutrients and soil carbon over different management systems and grassland condition status.

Hosted by Plantlife for the wider GRCF Meadow Makers partnership around the country, it was chaired by Caroline Hanks of Herefordshire Meadows, and in her words, “fits well with our series “Meadows, Mosaics and Mitigating climate change”.  

Photo Credit: Ruth Westoby

LOOKING BACK 

Outside the Scout Hut, on the Green off Eign Road, over ninety mums, dads, children, grandparents and teddy bears gather for a photo shoot. It’s June 1953 and they’re celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. 

Judith Morgan (nee Broad) from Whitecross was there that day. “We were holding a children’s party in Park Street for the Queen’s Coronation. But when it rained we beat a hasty retreat to Scout’s Corner.” 

The street party, organised by Mrs A Barber with singing and dancing provided by a Mr Chambers’ radiogram, was officially opened by Hereford United’s Charlie Thompson. 

Bartonsham History Group will host a Pop Up History Day – FoBM will be there – when they recreate the historic parish picture during the Queens Jubilee Bank Holiday on Friday, June 3. 

LOOKING FURTHER BACK 

Check out the images of the meadows as they were in 1933…

LOOKING FORWARD

5 April at 7.30pm. Regenerative Farming Project at Knepp. Join this online talk to hear Herefordshire-born Russ Carrington discuss regenerative farming at Knepp and how nature recovery and the creation of habitat networks can work in harmony with food production. This talk will be of interest and relevance to Herefordshire farmers and non-farmers alike.  Hosted by the City Branch of  the Wildlife Trust. 

For more information and booking click here. 
Peacock butterfly by John Underwood

MONTHLY BIRD SURVEY

The meadows have lain fallow for a year and a half now. We are keen to record changes to the flora and fauna in this time. Hence our monthly bird survey.

Dick Jones and Bill Laws are on the case and spotted:

BlackbirdNuthatchLesser black-backed gull
Grey wagtailMute swanGreat spotted woodpecker (heard)
Blue titMistle thrushMoorhen
GoldcrestCormorantGreat tit
MagpieGoosanderGreenfinch
Chiffchaff (heard)RobinMallard
WrenDunnockSkylark
CrowWoodpigeonHerring gull
House sparrow
List of birds spotted (and heard) on the 21st March 2022
Dick said, ‘Good to see nuthatch, greenfinch, grey wagtail and goldcrest and 14 goosander in total spotted.’ 25 species in total. Gareth noted, ‘Down one from last month: hope you’re not losing your touch boys…’

BUTTERFLIES

Please get let us know any of your sightings of flora, fauna and floods. Send to info@friendsofbartonshammeadows.org. Elaine let us know that in March she recorded the first sightings of butterflies, including Peacock, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone, and Large White.

Photo credit: Ruth Patrick

SPRING REPTILE SURVEY – JOIN US ON SUNDAY 3 APRIL 2PM

Last summer we placed reptile mats along the Row Ditch but alas found nothing bar snails and mice. This spring we will survey the riverbank, particularly behind the treatment works. We’ll lay the mats this coming Sunday.

Meet at 2pm by the Green Street entrance to the Meadows. 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
 

14 MAY at Bishops Meadows, St. James’ Community Association balsam bash and litter pick on Saturday May 14th from 10.30 at Bishop’s Meadow riverbank, King Georges Field at Victoria Bridge.  See http://www.jaba.org.uk/.
 

22 MAY  at Bartonsham Meadows, Friends Working Group, meet at Green Street entrance to Meadows, 2pm. 
 

3 JUNE  afternoon. Bartonsham History Group will commemorate this street party from 1953. We’ll be there to wax lyrical about floodplain restoration. And eat cake.
 

12 JUNE  at Bartonsham Meadows, Friends Working Group, meet at Green Street entrance to Meadows, 2pm.


25 JUNE  Wye Campaign (time and place TBC): update on Save the Wye Campaign. Hosted by the Hereford and South Herefordshire Labour Party.*

*Ruth swam from the bassom on Sunday gone and confirms the river is pretty stinky. And cold.

CALL OUT

As always, if you could do any of the following we'd be super grateful:

- Share this newsletter 
- Join us on Instagram and Facebook
- Become a formal member of the Friends Group - sign up here
- Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here

Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will

February 2022 Newsletter

CELEBRATING TWO YEARS CAMPAIGNING FOR FLOODPLAIN RESTORATION AT BARTONSHAM MEADOWS

Remember this? The historic floods two years ago (left) swept much of the topsoil off the meadows and into the Wye after its transition to arable (versus 2022 Storm Eunice floods captured by Will, right) - and prompted us to set up Friends of Bartonsham Meadows to campaign for restoration of floodplain meadows for the benefit of local people, wildlife, biodiversity, and climate. Two years later high floods struck again, as they tend to do on floodplains.

This newsletter marks our two year anniversary. Here are some of the things we are delighted to have achieved in that time.

  • Community engagement through in-person events, online events and social media
  • Wildlife and ecological surveys (bioblitz with Hidden Herefordshire, moths, hedgerows, reptiles, birds)
  • Development of an interactive map showing what floodplain restoration with heritage measures could look like (here)
  • Working groups on litter picking, tree-guard removal and balsam bashing
  • Secured support of the MP, Bishop, local church and leader of the council
  • Fostered relationships between advisory groups such as Herefordshire Meadows and the Floodplain Meadows Partnership with the Church Commissioners
  • We have raised sufficient funds to cover our activities and ensure we can continue to campaign for better management of this land
  • More details on the history and activities we have undertaken is available here 
  • An overview of our November 2021 event with expert groups and the Church Commissioners is available here  and a recording of the event here
  • We have developed in-depth research on grasslands (here), the history of the site (here), the relationship between the church and the meadows (here) and an extensive article in the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s Flycatcher Magazine (here).
  • We have constituted as a community association with elected officers including Treasurer, Secretary and Convenor
Kip Herring 2021
LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE

As a result of our activities and with the solid support of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust throughout the last two years, the Church Commissioners have entered into negotiations with the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust to take a long lease on the management of the land.

Watch this space as we hope to bring you an official announcement soon.

BIRDS

Dick Jones and Bill Laws have started conducting a monthly bird survey. This month (23rd. February between 9:00 and 11:45)  they spotted:

Skylark (heard)Tree creeperHerring gull
Wood pigeonBlue titPied wagtail
RobinGreat titBuzzard
WrenGoosanderTree creeper
CrowMagpieLong tailed tit
JackdawBlack headed gullMoorhen
BlackbirdStarlingHouse sparrow
MallardCormorantDunnock
Lesser blback backed gullRook 
 26 species in total. A record, and a first time for spotting a tree creeper.
February 2022 Floods. Will

FUTURE EVENTS

Hereford Wildlife Trust visit- Trustees of the HWT, led by Andrew Nixon, visited the Meadows on a wet afternoon on Monday 28th February.  Here they are with Ruth.

PLANNING MATTERS

An application from Connexus, the housing association, for 1-66 River View (no 214582) has the potential to affect views across the River. This is the group of six large blocks of flats which can be seen looking south across the Meadows and are especially visible from the riverbank public footpath in the winter. The flats, which were built in the ‘Cornish Unit’ style soon after the 1939-45 War do not meet modern standards for energy efficiency and the idea is to clad them with external wall and roof insulation. They would be faced on the ground floor with a grey/blue brick slip, on the first floor with white render and on the second floor with a red coloured metal.  The proposal, which includes changing all the windows to single glazed lights, would add to the bulk and height of the building by about 18 inches. Following consideration by the planning officer around the impact of the scheme on the setting of the Meadows, the scheme has been withdrawn for a rethink. 

CALL OUT

Please get in touch with your sightings of flora and fauna – and floods! We keep a record and would really appreciate any notes or images you take. Send to info@friendsofbartonshammeadows.org 

As always, if you could do any of the following we’d be super grateful:

  • Share this newsletter 
  • Join us on Instagram and Facebook
  • Become a formal member of the Friends Group – sign up here
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here

Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will

January 2022 Newsletter

HELLO

Welcome to the first Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter for the year. We hope that you had a restful festive period. As you can see below we have started the year with renewed hope for positive developments in the Meadows.

UPDATES

We understand that the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust is in discussion with the Church Commissioners regarding a lease on the meadows. There are many issues yet to be agreed upon but FoBM will keep you informed of any updates to this potentially exciting development.
Steve Franklin, 2021
THE PREBEND - BY BILL LAWS

Bill Laws shares his historical research on the post of prebend–and why the meadows matter to the community.

Who owns Bartonsham Meadows? And why?

The Church Commissioners for England, 31 Great Smith Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3AZ.

Why?

It’s an odd story.

In the 1840s the Rev John Hopton was vicar of Canon Frome and Prebendary of Bartonsham. Prebendaries were curious people. They represented their prebendary parish to the bishop and his cannons, and collected the rents, or tithes, on behalf of the Cathedral.

Hereford Cathedral employed ‘prebs’ because it was (and still is) a secular institution - one of only nine in England and Wales - as opposed to a cathedral run by a monastic order.

Hopton had been cheerfully collecting the rents since 1832. It was a decent income: aside from the water meadows, hops and orchards, there were a cluster of little businesses - small holdings, boat operators and knackers’ yards - around Crozier Lane and the nearby wharf. The size of the prebendary holding had been calculated ‘more or lesse’ in a ‘terrier’, or assessment, for Prebendary John Tyler in 1693. It listed ‘pasture, arable, meadowland’ and a generous ‘beast house’ on 133 acres ‘bounded south by the River Wye, and y lands of John Hill . . . , and y gardens abutting on the highway leading from Eign to St Giles chapill, and y five acres of arable land, called the Mill Croft’.

Not bad since less than half a century earlier the Meadows had been trashed by a bunch of Scots mercenaries laying siege to the city for the Parliamentarians. (Camped on the Meadows they made life miserable for the locals: ‘Reader, if thy hadst been present to have seen the cryes these poor people made, if thy heart had not been hard, it would have melted into tears with them,’ wrote Miles Hill in 1650.

In the 1840s, however, Hopton signed the Meadows over to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The deal seemed to have been designed to fund the new parish school, church and vicarage at St James.

Was it a good deal? While the school and church still serve the community, the vicarage, following a £1m publicly funded upgrade, is no longer a parish possession. (It was bought last year by the evangelical Christian group Vennture.)

And the Meadows? We hope the Prebendary of Bartonsham’s estate will, one day, do more than provide an income stream for the Church Commissioners.

Footnote: the honorary role of Prebendary of Bartonsham is still hosted by Hereford Cathedral. Currently vacant, it’s expected to be allocated soon.
 

Bill Laws chairs the Bartonsham History Group. Check out their website for a great history of the meadows www.bartonshamhistory.org.uk.
Lisa Stevens, 2021

BIRDS

The eagle-eyed Dick Jones and Bill Laws note the following –

We had a good walk this dry, cold and bright morning, setting off at 9:00 from Greenway Bridge. We followed the riverside path right round to Victoria Bridge and then back along Nelson Street, Green Street and Park Street.

We spotted the following:

BlackbirdGoosanderGoldcrest
WoodpigeonGreat titBlue tit
House sparrowKingfisherRobin
WrenMoorhenGoldfinch
Herring gullMallardMagpie
Lesser black backed gullBlack headed gullSong thrush
CrowLong tailed titSiskin
HeronPheasantJackdaw
RookCollared doveStarling
Sparrow hawk
(on roof of a certain house on Park Street)

Twenty eight in total – a record number for us and could easily have got to 30 if a few more regulars had been in evidence (swan, cormorant, dunnock, coal tit, redwing and fieldfare).

'WYE IN CRISIS' JABA COMMUNITY MEETING 27 JANUARY 2022

The St. James’ and Bartonsham Community Association held an online event on Thursday 27th January with fascinating contributions from Friends of the Upper Wye, Friends of the Lower Wye, and advice from the Wye Valley AONB on the practicalities of tackling balsam. A fourth talk told of the Wyeside infrastructure projects proposed along the course of the river through Hereford by the Sea Cadets, Rowing and Rugby Clubs. The information-rich event was recorded and will be available on www.jaba.org.uk.

REMOVAL OF TREE GUARDS

About 20 volunteers turned out in chilly bright and dry weather on Sunday 30th January to help with the removal of the deteriorating plastic guards from the young trees planted by Bartonsham Meadows on Outfall Works Road and along the cycle track towards Rotherwas. We started this job, which was long overdue, a year ago but were unable to complete it until the annual vegetation had died down.  Thank you to everyone who pitched in with the prickly task and cleared huge quantities of ordinary litter too. Photos taken by Ruth.

CALL OUT

Please get in touch with your sightings of flora and fauna - and floods! We keep a record and would really appreciate any notes or images you take. Send to info@friendsofbartonshammeadows.org 

As always, if you could do any of the following we'd be super grateful:

- Share this newsletter
- Join us on Instagram and Facebook
- Become a formal member of the Friends Group - sign up here
- Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here

Best wishes,

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth & Will

December 2021 Newsletter

HELLO

Welcome to the Friends of Bartonsham Meadows newsletter – it’s great to have you here. Thank you for supporting positive ecological management of Bartonsham Meadows.

This month we have…

  • Continued our discussions (online) with the Church Commissioners, with our next discussion scheduled for mid-January
  • Improved our Stronger Towns Fund bid, lead by Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, and re-submitted it to the board
  • Presented (Ruth) to the Community Association (online) introducing our project and giving an update on progress
  • Planned to gather our finest ecology heads together for a walk-round and assessment of the state of the meadows with a focus on wildlife populations
  • Reached over 100 supporters!
From Lisa Stevens

COMING UP IN THE NEW YEAR…
We’re excited to have an online introductory event in January. Herefordshire Wildlife Trust City Branch are kindly hosting us to give a presentation about our project. There’ll be short talks from Andrew Nixon (Herefordshire Wildlife Trust), Anna Gundrey (ecology consultant), Bill Laws (historian), Ruth Westoby (FOBM convenor) and plenty of time for Q&A.

It will take place on 21st January at 7pm

From Wendy Prickett

PLEASE COULD YOU…

  • Record images and footage of the meadows, especially now the floods are up, and share with us to keep a record and for use on social media
  • Donate to help our project grow (get in touch if you would like to make a donation)
  • Encourage friends to sign up to our mailing list
  • Consider joining Herefordshire Wildlife Trust
  • Get in touch with feedback and ideas
This project has only been kicked around since February 2020 and since then we have been bowled over by the encouragement, engagement and support it's received. In the teeth of an extraordinary and difficult year it has felt important and powerful to get active for positive change right on our doorstep. We’re so grateful for the generous donations which have enabled us to cover costs and develop the project. A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us, got involved and enabled this project to get off to such an awesome start.

Wishing you a peaceful 2021,

Friends of Bartonsham Meadows