New Yare Valley Meadows come to life

Many of us enjoyed the last year’s AGM talk by Matt Tomlinson about the work he is doing, with the help of volunteers, to promoting wildflowers on the Strawberry Field and UEA Dev Farm meadows. Matt has now sent us a March update on progress:

“I hope you all had a good start to 2023, now the clocks have changed and spring feels much closer. The wildflowers on the meadows are now showing the first signs of life. 

A few developments to let you know about –

We had the results of the soil analysis back from the lab, for the UEA meadow (next to the lake) we are helping with …. 

Over the last few days Yellow rattle (the important meadow maker) has started germinating on the UEA Dev Farm meadow. This is very encouraging – big thanks to all who came and sowed the wildflower seeds last autumn, I can also see some wild carrot coming through as well. It will be a gradual change, but if we persist we can help transform the UEA meadows to become rich and diverse.

I will be giving a talk and guided walk around Strawberry Field on the 13th of May as part of St Andrews church Eco Fair ….”

Strawberry Field wild flowers. Photo: Matt Tomlinson

The “Friends of Strawberry Field” is a local community wildflower meadow project. It helps to manage the Strawberry Field, the bank on the Bluebell Road cycle lane, and the Dev Farm meadow at UEA – around 5.3 hectare (13 acre) of potential wildflower meadow. Find out more on their Facebook Page.

Some Friends of Strawberry Field. Matt is on right. Photo: Matt Tomlinson

St Andrews Eco Fair

Following the success of last year’s Eco Fair, St Andrews will again be holding an Eco Fair in the Church on Saturday 13th May between 10 am and 2pm.

The focus this year will be on the biodiversity of our local neighbourhood.

The Eco Fair will have stalls of eco friendly product, and talks and walks exploring the local ecology.

“Our Eco Day will explore what can be done locally to safeguard and protect our own part of God’s creation.”

As can be expected the Yare Valley features strongly in the Fair with a birdwatching walk on Marsden Marsh and a walk to the Strawberry Field to see the developing wildflower meadow. Of the several talks at the fair there will be a talk by Matt Tomlinson of the Friends of Strawberry Field.

YVS will again have a display stand highlighting the importance of the Yare Valley in supporting and restoring local biodiversity.

YVS display at last year’s Eco Fair Photo: Marilyn Evans

Restoring the River for Wildlife

The Environmental Agency is funding Norfolk Rivers Trust to work on schemes that will increase meanders in the river, increase the speed of flow of the water, and trap more of the sediment that it transports. At the same time the schemes will improve water quality and provide marginal cover and habitat for river dwellers, such as water voles.

Newly constructed Berm Photo: John Elbro

Woody berms are being installed at various points along the banks of the River Yare between Cringleford Bridge and the UEA campus. The Woody Berms are made up of woody material, mainly alder, layered at the river margins and held tightly in place by stakes and cross braces. In places this has necessitated cutting back some of the vegetation on the banks to provide the materials.

As time passes reeds and other marginal vegetation will become established in the berms to give a more naturalised appearance and create habitat. An idea of what the mature berm might look like can be seen in a Wessex River Trust booklet.

Yare Valley Water Vole Photo: Lynda Clarkson

The Norwich Fringe Project has also been using natural materials to restore sections of bank that have become eroded at Marsden Marsh. It has inserted Faggots at places with serious bank erosion, these will help to consolidate the bank and reduce further erosion.

Bank restoration on Marsden Marsh

Explanatory notices have been put up to explain the works. A clearer map can be found here.

The Valley in Neolithic times

Eaton Village Residents’ Association (EVRA) is hosting a talk by Dr. Andrew Hutcheson on Arminghall Henge at Eaton Vale Activity Centre on Wednesday 15th March. Dr Hutcheson led last summer’s archaeological dig at the henge site. The site is surrounded by ditches and barrows that make this one of the densest collections of late Neolithic early Bronze Age monuments in eastern England and one of the most important prehistoric discoveries in Norfolk.

There are more details on the EVRA Website.

Arminghall Henge lies in the Yare Valley close to the river bridge at Lakenham. The nearest point of approach is on the Boudicca long distance trail which passes along the river valley at this point. A long term aim for the Yare Valley Parkway is to link the Yare Valley Walk with the Boudica Trail on its way to the Walk’s projected end point of  Whitlingham Country Park and a link to the Wherryman’s Way.

More information about the henge is on the Norfolk Heritage Website.