The river valley has woken to Spring. A soft green haze over the trees has begun to appear.
Yellow gorse, dandelions, celandine and Marsh marigolds shine golden in the sun. Swans are nesting and the birds are singing. Butterflies are emerging now, and the marsh walks are being enjoyed by all.
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has launched an appeal for funds to purchase and manage Sweet Briar Marshes (36.6 hectare) in the Wensum Valley green corridor.
The Wensum green corridor, in common with the Yare Valley green corridor, is threatened by the surrounding urban development, and the purchase of the marshes by NWT would be a valuable contribution to safeguarding the future of the corridor. The Wensum joins the Yare at Whitlingham.
“Close to the heart of Norwich lies Sweet Briar Marshes: 90 acres of fen, rough meadow, grazing marsh, old hedgerows and young woodland. This mosaic of habitats, unusually for a city centre, was arable farmland until as recently as the late 1990s, and today provides a treasure trove of nature, wildness and peace.
But this uniquely wild place is increasingly surrounded by urban development, and its sensitive ecology – including a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – is in danger of being lost forever…
Today, with the chance to secure the land, restore its biodiversity, and enhance it for people and wildlife alike, we have the remarkable opportunity to rewrite the story of Sweet Briar Marshes.
We want to create A Wilder Norwich For All with Sweet Briar at its centre an urban green space that is both rich in wildlife and enriching to the lives of the communities it serves; accessible to and valued by all the species who share it.”
More about the appeal is here and there are also some FAQs. The appeal is for £600,000 and Aviva has offered to match £ for £ every donation up to £300,000.
A new Danby Wood display board casts light on the woods industrial past.
From the late eighteenth century to the early part of the twentieth century Danby Wood was an industrial site for chalk and flint extraction and had limekilns burning chalk to form quicklime. The chalk and flint was extracted via an extensive network of tunnels that still exists. The tunnels are not open to the public, but some accounts of past explorations of the network are available on the web e.g. EDP article.
Danby Wood is one of five Norwich Local Nature Reserves in the Yare Valley. Details of the other nature reserves are on our Yare Valley Walk page.
More than 20 people of Eaton responded positively during lockdown by creating a work of art and sharing companionship through Zoom. The outcome was an embroidered quilt and a knitted blanket to show the good things that had been experienced, even in hard times. Quilt and blanket were assembled from squares created by individuals.
The embroidered quilt and the knitted blanket were exhibited in November 2021 with an audio-visual presentation of the thoughts behind the squares. The Yare Valley features as one of the good things experienced.
More people going for walks and appreciating the natural world, a Kingfisher spotted beside the river Yare at Eaton Common
Walkers on Marston Marsh enjoyed the sight of a great variety of wild flowers
The Strawberry Field is on the Bluebell Road next to the McCarthy and Stone site. It has now had its end of year cut, but for wildflowers to prosper the cuttings need to be removed.
Matt Tomlinson is organizing another working party to remove cuttings from at least part of the field. He writes:
“I plan to lead a work party to clear the clippings from the very top of the field and dispose of them under the hedge at the top of strawberry field and under the hedge at the top of the donkey sanctuary (we have permission from the UEA). This area is the richest and certainly the most diverse, for plants, on the field.
If you are free anytime on Saturday the 16th October from 10am (I will be down all day) it would be great to see you and any help is very much appreciated.
Please bring a rake and or fork.
It is forecast to be a nice sunny autumn day on Saturday”
Please come along if you can and help get the job done.
Jim Moore has been dreaming. He has published the first two books in his projected trilogy of children’s adventure fantasies of Princes and Witches in the Valley: “Radulf the Aetherling” and “The Valley Witches”.
Characters from the Valley wildlife feature in the books, and the action is set in locations along the Valley: Earlham Park, University Broad, through Cringleford to Keswick Mill and finally Venta Icenorum where the spirit of Queen Boudicca puts in an appearance. Many of the locations can be walked by the reader.
Jim lives with his wife Sheila and four children in Bowthorpe. He campaigned over many years for the recognition and restoration of the ancient trackway from Bowthorpe to Colney to which the Bridge of Dreams restores a crossingof the river that was lost over 50 years ago.
The books can be purchased via Facebook from Jim Moore at £10 plus p+p or directly from his home address 49 Notykin Street Cloverhill l Bowthorpe Norwich NR5 9DN. £1 from each book sold will be donated to Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity (SANDS).
A reader’s review of either of the books can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion on our website.
Matt is organising another volunteer session to pull ragwort on Strawberry field. This time in the evening, as many people find it difficult to come at the weekend. Matt says that in the last session “8 kind people did an incredible job and the field (now left uncut) is alive with butterflies, ant hills, grasshoppers chirping and dragonflies zipping by”.
The session will begin at 7pm on Thursday the 29th of July. Please bring gardening type gloves and wear long sleeves.
The Yare Valley Society has received the following request from Matthew Tomlinson
“Help needed to pull ragwort on Strawberry Field (Eaton, NR4 7LE) on Saturday the 17th of July at 10am. We are working with the landowner to change the way the field is managed, allowing us to treat it as a hay meadow and convert the site into an amazing 8 acre community wildflower meadow. It has been left uncut this year and a large number of bee orchids have popped up, along with a few pyramidal orchids and a huge amount of insect life. Please bring gloves and long-sleeved tops.”
Matthew is working with the landowner and the owners of the adjoining donkey field to get the fields management changed to turn it into a wildflower meadow. He has had good local support and hopes to do a moth trapping night over the summer. The ragwort is being pulled as an alternative to cutting the field which would kill any cinnabar moth caterpillars present. When the ragwort is pulled, any caterpillars on it will be transferred to plants off-field.
Warning. Ragwort is a highly toxic plant, and there is evidence that it can affect humans. Any pulling of the plant should be done wearing protective gloves, and although it may seem a fun activity for children, it is perhaps not wise to involve them.
If you have a special tool for the job e,g. a lazy dog weed remover please bring it with you. It is probably more effective for long term eradication.