The Friends of Strawberry Field and UEA meadows have changed their name to “The Yare Valley Meadow Makers” to better describe and emphasize their practical “in field” activities. They also have a new logo:
YVS members will recall that Matt Tomlinson gave a very well received talk about his vision for the meadows at the 2021 AGM. He founded the Friends group three years ago. The group has worked with the landowner of the Strawberry Field to make changes to the management of the field so as to better achieve the group’s long term aim of creating a rich community wildflower meadow. Spurred on by successes in the Strawberry Field the group also became involved in assisting with the nearby hay meadow at UEA. The most recent activity was to scatter yellow rattle seed at the UEA meadow. Yellow rattle is a well-known meadow maker.
“Here is our November programme for conservation volunteering activities, and it’s an exciting one! Of course, they are all exciting in their way, but this month sees us go to FOUR brand new sites! We are creating a new wildflower meadow near the village hall in Upton, building a “dead hedge” (fence from natural materials) in Wymondham, rejuvenating a woodland in Sprowston, and starting work on a new area in Rouen Road in the centre of Norwich. Creating new wildflower meadows is a bit of a theme this month, as we are also planting seeds and bulbs at Horsford, Earlham Cemetery and in Wensum Park. A number of students have been asking me about our Volunteer Officer programme (internships). If anyone is able to spend a few months with us (could be full or part-time, we are very flexible) they can learn everything that they need to know to get a paid job in nature conservation. … “
More details of internships and the programme are here.
Norfolk Rivers Trust have been overseeing work on the wetlands between the Strawberry Field and the river. The aim is to make the wetlands more resilient to climate change. Recent extended droughts have resulted in some of the wetland peat drying out, with release of carbon dioxide, and an adverse effect on flora and fauna. Pools are being created to store more water in time of flood, the water then being available during dry periods.
In the foreground is a stilling pool. This is deep enough to reduce the velocity or turbulence of the water flowing into the pool system and encourage sedimentation prior to the water entering the main pool. The channel leads to the main water storage pool.
The channel enters the storage pool on the left. The other end of the storage pool is sloping to encourage a variety of flora and fauna habitat.
Nearby a scrape has also been created. Scrapes are shallow ponds of less than 1m depth with gently sloping sides. They hold rain or flood water seasonally and, hopefully, will remain damp for most of the year.
It all looks rather stark at the moment, but it will not be long before nature takes advantage of the opportunities offered, and all will assume a softer natural appearance.
The changes will be monitored by the Norfolk Rivers Trust to see how effective they are in reducing the drying out of the wetland. The Trust has further projects in hand to improve the effectiveness of the Yare Valley as a wildlife corridor.
Notices have now been posted announcing the work that is to be done on the Yare Valley Walk along the riverside between the Strawberry Field and Cringleford Meadow. The work is expected to be started in the near future, but no date has been given.
This section of the walk has long needed improvement. It can become very muddy and almost impassable in adverse weather conditions. The improvements being planned are very welcome, and are being carried out in fulfilment of a condition placed on the planning approval for Phase 2 of the McCarthy Stone development on the Bluebell Road.
The map for the diversion is the same as that already posted for the temporary closure of the bridge in the news item below.
Matt Tomlinson of Friends of Strawberry Field and UEA Meadows writes:
“To continue our work to help restore the UEA meadows – UEA estates have kindly cut short an area on the meadow by the lake for us. We can now rake up the arisings and create some bare soil to sow yellow rattle and other strawberry field wildflower seeds. This worked really well last year and it would be great to build on this success.
Dates and times –
Sunday 8th Oct 10-12pm
Saturday 14th Oct 2-5pm
Please bring a rake with you if possible. I have borrowed 6 if you don’t have any.
Coffee and biscuits provided and of course everyone is welcome.
The October Programme for the Conservation Volunteers is now available here.
Mike Webster writes:
“October is approaching, and it definitely the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness now. I hope that you know someone can come out and join us for a transitional month as we finish off cutting and raking our precious remaining wildflower meadows, before moving into more scrub clearance and pond work as the nesting season finishes. To celebrate Friday 13th we have a trip to a spooky castle, but on Halloween itself the only horror show will be seeing how overgrown some newly planted trees have got! Also this month there’s the chance to both cut back laurel and plant spring bulbs in Cringleford, and we will be exploring some new areas of East Ruston’s giant area of “Poor’s Allotment” (land allotted to the poor of the parish, now tremendously good wildlife habitat) to see the process of restoring a heathland in action. “
Water lettuce, Pista Stratiotes, has been spotted on the river. This is a non-native invasive species and in warmer waters can present a serious problem. In this country it is on sale for ponds and aquariums, but should not be released into the wild. The leaf rosettes produce stolons that can give rise to daughter rosettes, these can detach from the parent, and enable the species to spread through a waterway.
At present the view of the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) is that water lettuce is unlikely to survive the winter in the UK. That is not to say that climate change, and the possibility of the development of more hardy varieties, could not result in it becoming a problem in the future.
If you discover a plant on the river that you believe might be a serious invasive threat, please check it out on the NNSS website, and follow the advice they give on reporting it.
The September Programme for the Conservation Volunteers is now available here.
Mark Webster writes:
“Well, September is here, back to school and college for some and back to the rake (rather than grindstone) for us, as meadow management season is in full swing. Since the Second World War, Britain has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows, making the fragments of this habitat that we still have all the more precious. Make hay while the sun shines, as they say, and in our case there will be a lot of haymaking this month, as we cut and rake up a variety of different grassland sites all over Norwich: this management is vital in order to keep the meadows from being taken over by nettles, thistles, brambles and scrub. We have also got a bit of bracken bashing, and another trip out to the fine old town of Bungay.
For those enthusiasts of the bad puns and film/tv/pop culture references with which I try to liven up these programmes (no, honestly, some people are) this month is something of a song lyric special, thanks largely to one volunteer (you know who you are) who got me thinking how many songs have hey (hay) in the title, perfect for this month.”
Matt Tomlinson of Friends of Strawberry Field and UEA Meadows writes:
“UEA meadows had their annual cut and collect this week – important to deplete soil nutrients and control grass vigour. Arisings are being left under the tree belts, which make good habitat piles (for breeding grass snakes especially).
For the first time you will see uncut strips on the meadows, which act as refuges for over wintering insects. These will be moved every year.
Big thanks to Norfolk wildlife trust who have been down to Broad Hay Meadow this week to spread some green hay from their roadside nature reserve at Shotesham. A big square has been cut short, by UEA estates, to allow the seeds to have good contact with the soil and to keep the grasses in check. This will be a big boost to the meadows biodiversity and we look forward to see what comes up in the spring !
Thanks also to UEA estates for all their hard work in preparing the area at short notice.
We will be down at UEA in late September to get some more yellow rattle sown.”
“Summertime, and the Himalayan Balsam is all behind us now – but we won’t look back, instead we are looking forward to a month of making hay, possibly whilst the sun shines, or maybe with scattered showers, but hopefully no more thunderstorms!
This month we will keep caring for our newly planted trees at Bunkers Hill and Netherwood Green, as well as tackling invasive bracken on Mousehold Heath, but mainly we are all about gorgeous grasslands in August, sometimes cutting and always raking up. This is a vital part of habitat management for wildflowers, keeping nutrient levels low to stop nettles and thistles pushing out the beautiful mix of our rarer species which make up a healthy and diverse meadow. Locations include lovely quiet Barmer (out in the wilds), the fine old town of Bungay, and two of Norwich’s most special green lungs, Rosary and Earlham Cemeteries.
If you know someone who could join us for a summer holiday in Norfolk (well, a day out anyway) at some point this month, please let them know.”