November 2021 Newsletter

Hereford, 30th November 2021. Credit Fran Morgan
HELLO
Welcome to this latest edition of the FoBM Newsletter.

REPORT OF PUBLIC MEETING 9TH NOVEMBER

We held an online lecture, Q&A and discussion with the experts on floodplain meadows restoration. We were delighted to be joined by local and national leaders in floodplain meadow, grassland, and wetland restoration and management.

Emma Rothero from the Floodplain Meadows Partnership

Caroline Hanks from Herefordshire Meadows

Andrew Nixon from Herefordshire Wildlife Trust

This information-rich event is available to watch on our YouTube channel (minus the discussion and Q&A) and Jenny-May has written a full blog report available here on our website.

See some sneak peeks of the presentations below!

Slide 26 by Emma Rothero.

“On one level my task was easy -as these meadows are naturally stunning -and art that communicates the beauty and wonder of the natural world draws our attention to it, brings us joy and reminds us how much we value it and that we should protect it.”

“But more than that it was important to me to amplify the message that these vital floodplain meadows are still under threat; from agricultural practices, housing and road developments and even flood defence measures.”

Words by artist Alice Walker
Illustration by EnviroVisuals

5 principles of regenerative agriculture. Groundswell, the regenerative Agriculture Show and Conference.

LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE

At our online event the land agent for the  Church Commissioners responsible for Bartonsham Meadows gave a management update. Matthew Scott, of Strutt and Parker, stated that Bartonsham Farm forms an important green space in central Hereford, without which lots of people wouldn’t have access to outdoor green spaces. The Church appreciates that it is a key asset to the people of Hereford. He said that the Commissioners are looking at changing from an arable farming system to some form of floodplain meadow restoration - ‘that’s a plan we’re looking to put together’. He said they are considering how best to do that as they come out of the environmental stewardship scheme (which was in place for the previous tenant farmer). This involves  looking at a range of options for future tenancy. 

The final word of the event went to Andrew Mottram (erstwhile Vicar of St. Paul’s Church) who was kind enough to share his views on the project. He flagged up that the Church of England has a serious zero carbon target and environmental programme, which both congregations and commissioners have to work to. It will be published next Spring. Church Commissioners are stewards, and they have responsibility as trustees to ensure a return on investment; but also a responsibility to ensure that assets ‘do not suffer from loss, degradation or depreciation’. This is the other side of the Bartonsham Meadows project. It needs to be recognised that the mistake of it going to arable has done a lot of damage. But look at the way that land recovers. The site needs to be given time, and the Church Commissioners need to have a longer-term view, for example 25 years rather than five. Andrew shared the example of the flood plains down the Thames in Oxfordshire that are now beautiful, richly biodiverse grasslands. Andrew had these final words of encouragement to everyone involved with Friends of Bartonsham Meadows: ‘It’s a great project. It’s brilliant that the community of Bartonsham have woken up to this. It could so easily have been lost. So well done to everybody involved’.

Please see our blog and YouTube for further details. 

Friends of Bartonsham Meadows will continue to work hard to promote a long-term solution with floodplain meadow restoration accompanied by heritage and environmental restoration - ponds, hedgerows, orchards and wetlands.
Photo credit: Fram Morgan

SPOTLIGHT: “ARE YOU TESTING THE WATER?” CITIZEN SCIENCE AND THE WYE RIVER

Fran Morgan has been volunteering for a citizen science project monitoring the health of the River Wye as it passes by the Meadows. We asked her for an update.

“Are you testing the water?”

I was delighted to be asked. Here was my opportunity to talk with people about the state of the river and quite often they will have typed Friends of the Upper Wye into their phones before they walk away. Today my conversationalists were also searching for veg box deliveries near you before they carried on across the Victoria Bridge! Well it’s all joined up, they said, and I had to agree with them.

Sue Bywater and I have been monitoring the water quality from the middle of the Vicky Bridge twice a week for about 4 months now and today, 16th November, was another “mass testing day”. This means that the quality of the river and its tributaries is measured that day at around 150 sites between the source and Mordiford. The results are transferred via an app to Cardiff University where they are collated and analysed.

What are we checking? Well, the main ingredients of concern are nitrates and phosphates largely running off the land or leaching into the river because of over application. The poo of 20 million chickens in the Upper Wye catchment has to go somewhere and extra fertilisers added to fields can also contribute to this eco disaster which has seen the spread of blue green algae through the river, blocking out the sunlight, depriving the river of weed and oxygen for fish and invertebrates at the bottom of the food chain. It is suggested that swans have not been able to successfully rear their cygnets for 2 years now as the weed has disappeared and the numbers of fish are declining rapidly. A number of angling clubs are involved in river testing too as they see the future of their sport in jeopardy.

The university is looking for correlations with temperature and conductivity so we measure that too, it’s about 12 oC in the river at the moment but summer temperatures of over 20 oC were apparently really too hot for the fish. We also measure the turbidity of the river to give an indication of recent heavy rainfall and flooding and we estimate the size of patches of algae or evidence of particular pollution spills. A serious incident will be reported immediately to the Environment Agency.

It’s feels so hopeful testing the river twice a week, it really complements the meadows campaign. The chance it offers me to talk to folk as they pass along the bridge has been so encouraging. Comments like, I wouldn’t drink it or, as I lower our bucket into the river, you’ll never catch a fish like that, have given way to real interest in the process of testing and enthusiasm to get involved.

I’m sure the world is going to change one test tube at a time.

Fran Morgan – volunteer for Friends of the Upper Wye

https://www.fouw.org.uk/citizen-science

(Fran will provide a further contribution in a future newsletter looking in greater detail at the science behind the project. Thanks Fran!)

BIRD SURVEY AT 9:00AM, FRIDAY 26TH NOVEMBER

Two grey wagtails were spotted very near Greenway Bridge. Three female gooseander were on the Wye. A few birds listed were heard but not seen: great spotted woodpecker, jackdaw and wren. Half a dozen or so birds in flight were finches and listed as chaffinches. No swans, redwing or fieldfare spotted.

List of birds:

Pied wagtail                 Pied wagtail             Pheasant
Grey wagtail                Grey wagtail             Great spotted woodpecker
Mallard                           Mallard                        Gooseander
Black headed gull     Black headed gull  Kingfisher
Magpie                           Magpie                        Jackdaw
Wood pigeon              Wood pigeon            Rook
Bluetit                            Bluetit                           House sparrow
Wren                               Wren                             Robin

JOLLY HISTORY WALK 28TH DECEMBER – AN INVITE FROM THE BARTONSHAM HISTORY GROUP

Famous families from composer Edward Elgar’s to Victorian photographer Alfred Watkins’ have wandered the Wye at our ‘Bassom’. 

Keep their company with Bartonsham History Group for a (free! but donations ALWAYS welcome) family amble across the Meadows on Tuesday 28 December. Gather at the Meadows’ Green Street end around 10.15am – and expect a slice of history from our local experts! Bring your own mince pies.

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 

HOLIDAY SEASON

We’re delighted with progress so far but will definitely not let up the pressure. We’re going to take a break from the monthly newsletter and skip the December update. But we will continue all our efforts!

Look out for the next newsletter sometime towards the end of January 2022, just on the cusp of spring, with details of exciting developments and events to look forward to. 

In the meantime, the Friends of Bartonsham Meadows committee would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas (if Christmas is your thing) or a very relaxing holiday season (if it is not) and a very Happy New Year.

Best wishes

Anna, Bill, Charlie, Chloe, Dick, Gareth, Jeremy, Mo, Rhys, Ruth, Will – and our super guest writers Jenny-May While and Fran Morgan

October 2021 Newsletter

HELLO FRIENDS

Nature might have started slowing down over the last few weeks in preparation for winter but FoBM has been cracking on at pace with various activities and plans…

TALKING FLOODPLAIN MEADOW RESTORATION WITH THE EXPERTS. DISCUSSION AND Q&A. 

On the 9th of November we have a very special online meeting when experts in meadow restoration and upkeep will share their knowledge and insights. Participants will have the chance to discuss what restoration might look like at Bartonsham. This is an event not to be missed.

Sign up below to attend the event and please share with those you think might be interested. It is free but donations are welcome (which you can add when you sign-up via Eventbrite).

FoBM will also share the way in which its membership structure will operate over the next 12 months at the meeting.

A VISIT TO THE MEADOWS BY PAUL WALKER THE NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF HEREFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL.

Counsellor Jeremy Milln facilitated the visit as a part of the CEO’s walking tour of the ward on 25th October. Jeremy was able to report:

“Paul Walker very much enjoyed his visit to Bartonsham Meadows yesterday and asked me to thank you for going out of your way to meet him there and show him round. He was clearly hugely impressed by the efforts of the Friends group and genuinely delighted and inspired by what he heard and saw.”


Paul Walker noted that he would like to support the project and it was suggested he speak with the Bishop, Rev Richard Jackson. Richard has previously supported FoBM’s aims by writing to the CEO of the Church Commissioners. 

LASTEST ON LAND MANAGEMENT PLANS

FoBM spoke with the Church Commissioners’ land agent for an update on land management on 22nd October. 

The Church Commissioners have decided against reseeding this Autumn on the basis that it is difficult to cultivate now whilst avoiding ploughing, and a reluctance to invest in a temporary lay of an annual ryegrass. The agent has received advice that groundcover is sufficient to hold the soil through winter floods even in the field beside the house. FoBM have shared images of the current groundcover – and bare patches.

The agent has arranged for the land to be topped by a contractor, weather permitting, using a batwing hayter and the cuttings left on site. After this cut the land will be put to bed till the spring, when it will be drilled. 

The Church Commissioners have sought advice from the Floodplain Meadows Partnership and Hereford Meadows and will meet with them next month. However, this is for a baseline plan rather than a reinstatement as floodplain. The agent is also to put together a brief to find a tenant early in the new year on a flexiterm contract for 5 or 6 years. The shortness of the tenancy rules out Herefordshire Wildlife Trust who cannot take on a lease of less than twenty-five years.

By Ruth

HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE THE CHURCH COMMISSIONERS 

On the 18th October various members of the committee had a really helpful conversation with Andrew Mottram who was able to offer insights to the workings of the Church Commissioners and how best to approach them. Andrew was the vicar at All Saints and works with the church for innovative use of the estate. 
 

The Rev Luke Aylen, who walked the land with Jeremy and Ruth at the end of September, has petitioned the Diocese and written to the Church Commissioners. Luke has raised the case for including environmental issues, and specifically Bartonsham Meadows, in the Church’s wider area’s mission action plan. Luke recently arrived in Hereford from an urban ministry in Bristol where he had obtained valuable experience in community supported agriculture and organic garden projects. Luke is a ‘designated pioneer’ for the Church of England which has given him leave to ‘think outside the box’ especially in tackling the Climate Crisis and in social action work. Luke is working to turn some of the Commissioners’ land at Three Elms into an eco community farm if it goes ahead with the large scale house-building proposed there.

REPTILE SURVEY DRAWS A BLANK... BUT WE'LL BE BACK

A month-long survey along the permissive path behind Park Street failed to produce any evidence of reptile populations. Next spring a similar survey will be conducted but along the river bank. Hopefully any slow worms will be quicker on the uptake. 


MEADOWS BIRD SURVEY

After the unexpected skylarks visits this summer, what’s about in winter? 

Our monthly bridge-to-bridge (Canary to Victoria) survey, uploaded to the British Trust for Ornithology’s Bird Track, threw up robin, blackbird, house sparrow, blue-, great- and long-tailed tits, buzzard, kestrel, tawny owl, great spotted woodpecker, magpie, rook, crow, starling (a murmuration of around 100), lesser black backed and black headed gulls, mute swan, moorhen and mallard. 

Expect to see goosander, kingfisher, cormorant and a shy little egret on the river; field fares and redwings are flying over now along with song and mistle thrush. 
Goosander – from birdwatcher.co.uk

FOBM IN FLYCATCHER

FoBM received a huge publicity boost this month with a five page spread on its aims and work in the journal of the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, 2021.

UPCOMING EVENTS FROM HEREFORD WILDLIFE TRUST CITY BRANCH

Wild Plants in Urban Environments’ a Zoom talk by Dr Mark Spencer this Thursday November 4th 7:30 pm, followed by Q&As.  A well-known forensic botanist, Mark 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’s work have a look at his website and show reel at www.markspencerbotanist.com   To book for this free talk click on  https://www.herefordshirewt.org/events/2021-11-04-city-branch-online-talk-wild-plants-urban-environments or go to the Events page on the HWT website https://www.herefordshirewt.org/

THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT. AS EVER, PLEASE COULD YOU – 

  • Send us your sightings! – We’d love to see your reports of any birds, beasts, plants and floodwater… email to info@friendsofbartonshammeadows.org
  • Share this newsletter
  • Join us on Facebook and Instagram
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here
  • Become a formal member of the Friends Group – once we have a sec to get the details on the site!

Best wishes

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

September 2021 Newsletter

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

Quick overview of the month:

We walked the site with the officers of the Church Commissioners and their agents and have received independent advice on reseeding from a number of experts.

We laid reptile mats along the Row Ditch and have been checking them this month. Alas no snakes - but a wee mouse and lots of snails.

We conducted a hedgerow survey to identify defunct hedgerow, where the hedges need gapping up, and to identify species. Suffice to say for now that many are in a poor state.

Our seven-page spread in the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s next edition of The Flycatcher is at the printers and will be with HWT members in mid-October. See a preview below.

The spider Poppy Wilkins identified in our Bioblitz made it to prime position in the CLAN newsletter.

A huge huge thanks to Healing Herbs’ generous donation - we now know our basic running costs are covered for the year to come. If you can chip in to support our activities we now have an instant donate button on the website here
Thanks to CLaN for the mention!
Sneak peak of our article in Flycatcher! Full edition available mid-October.

LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE

Autumn is upon us and the meadows have been fallow for a year. The topping of weeds in August has left a seedbed to be relished by the birds this winter but leaves a seedbed of docks estimated to last 60 years. The docks are already forming seed heads again – which we have of course communicated to the Church Commissioners and asked them to top and remove.

Flooding of the meadows is inevitable as winter approaches. Current ground cover will provide some resistance to the removal of topsoil, but not on areas where cover is poor, such as the field closest to the farmhouse. 

The Church Commissioners have received recommendations from county and national meadow restoration groups to reseed all of the fields without the use of spray this autumn. This needs to be done as a matter of urgency both to provide cover where the land is bare and to allow the seed to become established enough not to be washed away in the floods. After a year of lying fallow weed mitigation is problematic. However, if an annual nurse crop were sown this would inhibit the return of dock and thistle – provided that if say ryegrass were used it could be cut and carted to avoid establishment on the land for decades. A more native meadow mix could then be added to the sward. 

The Church Commissioners have not yet indicated whether they will seek to reseed the site this Autumn. We have strongly urged them to do so. We have shared this text with them prior to sending out the newsletter and asked for a statement on their intention for the site that we can share publicly.

REPTILE SURVEY

During September we have been conducting a reptile survey along the permissive path at the back of Park Street. This is the ideal time of year to do it – reptiles are less active in Autumn and easier to spot, but have not yet gone into hibernation. 

We were hoping to find slow worms or perhaps common lizards but sadly we have not seen a single reptile – only a lone mouse and lots of snails.  This may be because historically the field was grazed right up to the gardens, which would not have left many places for reptiles to shelter, or it may be that slow worms have been predated by the healthy cat population in the neighbourhood.  Because of the city centre location, the meadows are isolated from other habitats that might support reptiles, so once lost it is difficult for a population of reptiles to recolonize. 

Next spring we plan to carry out a similar survey along the edge of the river, where we are hoping to discover grass snakes, a species that is often associated with aquatic habitat.  If we do find reptiles along the river, we could investigate how green corridors allow the population to disperse to other areas of the meadows.  Which leads nicely onto the survey that we have carried out this month….

HEDGEROW SURVEY

FoBM have just carried out an audit of the hedgerow resource on the meadows.  As many may have noticed, new double fences were installed along defunct hedgelines a few years ago as if in preparation for new hedge planting.  But this never happened.  We have walked the boundaries of the fields and assessed the condition of each of the hedgerows, and will report back to the CC with the aim of encouraging them to fulfil the commitments of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

CREATURE FEATURE

At first glance a slow worm looks like a snake, but they are actually legless lizards.  They have a sleek silvery body and a tail that they can shed to escape an attacker.   They are found in a range of habitats from grassland and woodland edges to gardens, and feed on invertebrates such as slugs and spiders.  Like all reptiles in Britain, they receive protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 meaning that it is an offence to kill, injure or sell them. Like much of the UK’s wildlife, they are threatened by habitat loss.

During our hedgerow survey we spied these tree guards along Outfall Works that need to come off – when the undergrowth has died down a little more to avoid the stingers. We might organise a community working group – unless you want to get out there and start getting them off! Photo by Dick Jones
THIS MONTH, LOOK OUT FOR...

Our seven-page spread in Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s The Flycatcher due out to members in mid-October.

The Floodplain Meadows Partnership’s online conference running 13th, 14th and 15th October. Check out the sessions and sign-up here.

Our friends at Hidden Herefordshire have been busy developing an exciting programme of wildlife courses for the autumn/winter months.  Check the new Herefordshire Biological Records Centre website for details here.  Courses are free and cover a range of fascinating topics such as ‘Getting to grips with woodlice’ and ‘Learn to love earthworms’.  They are also encouraging everyone to take part in a Garden Wildlife survey – survey sheets and spotters guides are available on the HBRC website. Check out the flyers below for more information.

We’ll do a survey of reptiles along the riverbank in the Springtime - better luck there we hope!

THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT. AS EVER, PLEASE COULD YOU – 

  • Let us know your exciting flora and fauna finds
  • Send us images and stories of the meadows
  • Share this newsletter
  • Join us on Facebook and Instagram
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here
  • Become a formal member of the Friends Group – once we have a sec to get the details on the site!

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

July 2021 Newsletter

HELLO

A warm welcome to our Friends. Thank you so much for supporting our project for Bartonsham Meadows.

Throughout July’s torrential rain and blazing heat we’ve been busy.  Actions this month:

Hosted an informal follow-up to our first balsam bash on 4th July to cut further swathes behind the treatment works. Many locals have made huge efforts to continue to tackle the Himalayan balsam. What remains is now flowering but we will be back next year!
  
Met with the Church Commissioners on 7th July to discuss weed mitigation, advocate for floodplain restoration, and ascertain the requirements to pitch to buy the land. More in the ‘land management update’ below.
  
Hosted our penultimate summer event, a Wildflower Walk around the Meadows, on 11th July. Huge thanks to everyone who came along and made a donation, we all brushed up our weed, grasses and wildflower knowledge! Thanks to Anna Gundry for leading the walk and providing tick-off plant ID sheets and info leaflets to help along the way. See photos below. Check out below for details of our final #FoBMSummer event, the Bioblitz. 
  
Showcased the project at the wonderful Walking the Wye handover on Castle Green on 18th July. The #SaveTheWye pilgrims made such a powerful, moving entrance to Hereford. It was great to be a part of the celebration picnic with other local organisations - and a warm hello to anyone who has joined our mailing list since having a chat with us on that day!
  
Supported The Civic Society’s well-attended walk of the Meadows on 22nd July hosted by Jeremy Milln with history contributions from Bill Laws and David Whitehead. Ruth Westoby gave a quick introduction to our project.
  
Walked the site with the committee and a potential new tenant on 26th July. Watch this space……

IN OTHER NEWS…

We’re officially a Community Association! Very exciting stuff. You can view our constitution below. Now we have our brilliant committee of volunteers behind us, we’re in the process of formulating our membership scheme. See the events section below for how to get involved in our first official public meeting (hosted online) to learn more about becoming a subscribing supporter of our project.

“An interesting evening walk around Bartonsham Meadows, led by Cllr Jeremy Milne & hosted by Hereford Civic Society with contributions from David Whitehead, Ruth Westoby of the Friends of Bartonsham Meadows & Members of the Bartonsham History Group.” Kip Herring – Thanks for sharing!
Cheers! Making the most of the sunshine, enjoying a wild swim in the river from the meadows. This is what we need more of…

LAND MANAGEMENT UPDATE

The Meadows are technically fallow, left unmanaged since the crop was taken in Autumn 2020. This has led to spectacular growth of vegetation which has benefited insects and birds. Yet proscribed weeds such as dock, thistle and ragwort predominate. We are campaigning for restoration of biodiverse grassland characteristic of traditional floodplain meadows to deliver benefits for people, wildlife and the environment. We continue to explore options for acquisition of the land on behalf of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust should the Church Commissioners be persuaded to dispose of it. We have also established a dialogue between the Church Commissioners and their agents and the country’s leading experts on floodplain meadow restoration. There has been extensive communications but as yet no immediate plan.

7th July meeting outcomes:

  • Agents for the Church Commissioners agreed to cut and remove the weeds potentially to the anaerobic digester plant at Hampton Bishop. Two weeks after that discussion it appears the remnant crop is now too woody to be of value for anaerobic digesters.
  • We understood from this meeting that the Commissioners are now not seeking to remove this parcel of land from the previous tenant’s Mid-Tier Stewardship Scheme.
  • We note that there are a range of views on the most appropriate restoration both in the interests of the environment and in the interests of expediency. The Friends group have communicated that we support a programme of cutting and carting as preliminary weed control in preparation for restoration of a grass sward, rather than herbicides and ploughing.
  • Agents for the Commissioners have asked us to communicate their preferred option with our supporters and we will of course do so. We have invited them to present their plans for the site at a public meeting in September.

Land management summary

  • The developments over the last year and a half since the Friends group got going can seem a little complex! After our June newsletter we produced a one page summary linked below. Check it out for an overview and do share with all interested parties.

SAVE THE DATE!

Our membership scheme is launching soon! We are hosting our first online public event as a committee to present our project and offer our membership programme. We’d love as many of our supporters to attend as possible. 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 answer questions.
The online event will take place on Monday 13th September, 7pm. Put the date in your diary! We’ll be following up with more information, including booking links, nearer the time.

YOUR SUPPORT IS INVALUABLE, PLEASE:

  • Come along to our Bioblitz
  • Send us your images of the Meadows
  • Share this newsletter widely
  • Join us on Instagram and Facebook
  • Become a member of Herefordshire Wildlife Trust here.
  • Make a donation to keep our project going. Dick, our new treasurer, is working on opening us a bank account but for now we would truly appreciate cheques dropped off the old-fashioned way here or you can donate via our Eventbrite page when checking out for events. If you feel you could contribute to a valuation please drop us an email to chloe@friendsofbartonshammeadows.org

Best wishes,

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