Second try at Yellow Rattle Seed Collection

The collection of Yellow Rattle Seed planned for the 23rd of July had to be postponed because of unsuitable weather. A second attempt will be made this coming Sunday the 30th July 10 – 12 am, when the weather is looking dry. Its likely to be soggy underfoot, please wear appropriate foot wear. 

Please come along if you can.

Meet at Marston marshes – at the bottom corner (go down church lane past Eaton Vale Scout Centre and take the footpath on the left, running parallel to the train track and enter the marsh).

Please don’t go to Strawberry Field for this one. 

Development proposed in Yare Valley Corridor

Planning applications have been submitted to Norwich City Council, South Norfolk District Council, and Broadland District Council for the development of the Deal Ground at Bracondale. The Yare Valley Society is concerned about any development that could impact on the effectiveness of the Yare Valley green corridor, from Bawburgh Lakes to Whitlingham Country Park, in its roles of sustaining biodiversity, combatting and mitigating the effects of climate change, and providing a green space for informal recreation.

The Application Number for Norwich is 23/00774/RM. The proposal is for “Reserved Matters of appearance, landscaping, layout and scale of outline planning permission 12/00875/O ‘Outline planning application (full details of access) for a mixed development consisting of a maximum of 670 dwellings; a local centre comprising commercial uses (A1/A2/A3): a restaurant/dining quarter and public house (A3/A4); demolition of buildings on the May Gurney site (excluding the former public house); an access bridge over the River Yare; new access road; car parking; flood risk management measures; landscape measures inc earthworks to form new swales and other biodiversity enhancements including the re-use of the Grade II Listed brick Kiln for use by bats.”

“The Consultation Expiry Date is 12 August 2023”

You can view comments from the public and other consultees as they are added to the application file throughout the assessment process on the council’s planning website. Search for application number 23/00774/RM and select the Comments tab. You can use the same website to make your own comments, or you can make them by email to planning@norwich.gov.uk.

To view the application made to Broadland and South Norfolk Council please visit their planning website and search for application number 2023/1825

The Yare Valley Society will be examining the application carefully, and will respond as appropriate, particularly in relation to:

Yare Valley Green Infrastructure Corridor and Parkway.

It will look for an easing of the pinch point in the valley green corridor at Lord Boswell’s Green. The pinch point section has recently been further degraded by the removal of mature trees along the drainage channel between the Green and the development. To what extent will the proposals compensate for this damage?

County Wildlife Site

The present County Wildlife Site is outside of the development area. To what extent will the integrity of the wildlife site be protected? How might its biodiversity be improved? How might public access be restricted to safeguard wildlife?

Pedestrian and cyclist links through the site

How might the pedestrian and cycle links through the site contribute to the long-term aim of a Yare Valley Walk from Bawburgh Lakes to Whitlingham Country Park. Will there be a link over Yare linking the development to the Whitlingham Country Park? How will it link with the cycling and walking routes into the City?

Flooding

Will the development increase or decrease the likelihood of flooding upstream and downstream in the Wensum and the Yare? What safeguards are being put in place?

Please have a look at this application and comment on the proposals, perhaps bearing in mind the questions raised above, as well as your own questions.

Yellow Rattle Seed Collection

Sunday the 23rd of July 10-12am

Meet at Marston marshes – at the bottom corner (go down church lane past Eaton Vale scout centre and on reaching the railway crossing take the footpath on the left, running parallel to the train track, and enter the marsh).

Matt writes: “We have permission to collect Yellow Rattle seeds from Marston Marshes. These will be vital for us to continue to enrich the UEA meadows and it was a great success last year. However, many more are needed this year. Please come along if you can. Please don’t go to Strawberry Field for this one.” 

“Everyone is welcome, I will bring coffee and biscuits dates”.

Please support Matt’s important work on improving the biodiversity of the Yare Valley.

Yellow rattle encourages other wildflowers Photo: June Gentle

Why Yellow Rattle?

Yellow Rattle has a role in creating and sustaining wildflower meadows.  As the Yellow Rattle roots develop, they spread out, and seek out the roots of plants nearby, particularly coarse grasses, and take water and nutrients from them. The growth of the grasses is supressed, and this gives room for other wildflowers to flourish. In addition, the Yellow Rattle is valuable in itself for its nectar rich flowers that sustain pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Monitoring the Meadow: Big Butterfly Count

Matt Tomlinson of the Friends of Strawberry Field and UEA Meadows is organising another of his events to promote interest in the developing meadows of the Yare Valley:

The Big Butterfly Count

and use of a bird song id app.

Saturday the 15th of July 10-11am

Meet at the Strawberry Field top gate (or find us on the top of the field if running a bit late).

Matt writes: “Roger Carter from our group has kindly agreed to do the Citizen science project – The Big Butterfly count, on Strawberry Field. This will simply involve recording butterfly species seen in a 15 minute time window, we will likely use the 2 patches of wild marjoram to do this.”

Will you see this one? Photo: Kate Stephenson

“I thought that after that we could use a great little app to see which bird species are around the field margins by recording 10 or 20 minutes of bird song using the merlin bird id app, the app will identify which species are heard. If you would like to do this please upload the app and test that it’s working. It’s really a great app to have!” 

More about the big butterfly count is here.

The Merlin Bird app is here.

Conservation Volunteers Welcome

The YVS regularly gets enquiries about opportunities for active conservation work, and so it is pleased to report that the Norfolk Environmental Action Team (NEAT) is looking to recruit volunteers. Their work has included improving parts of the Yare Valley green corridor.

Mark Webster of the Team writes: [Here] … is July’s programme*.  We will finally be free of the dreaded Balsam scourge after the chance to explore a new section of riverside near Drayton, and then it’s on to tackling bracken to rescue our precious heaths at Mousehold and East Ruston.  85% of Britain’s heathland has been lost over the last 150 years, so we can’t afford to lose any more, but we have now done over 500 task days on Mousehold since 2005 (when our digital records began)!  We have an intriguing new site to work on in Diss, and we will also be weeding wildflower meadows in the centre of the city at Rouen Road and on the Marriott’s Way.  If you get the chance, walk along the river at Wensum Park to see how spectacular our swathe of cornfield wildflowers looks there!  I am also delighted to say that part of the Oulton Broad site will be open to the public soon, so we need to get ready for that too.

Please do send us anyone that you can think of, they will always be made welcome.  Did I mention that we have nice biscuits, with a coolbox to stop the chocolate melting!”

July’s Programme and more details about volunteering are here.

Plant surveys on Strawberry Field – Saturday 3rd of June at 10 am -12

Matt Tomlinson of Friends of Strawberry Field and UEA meadows is organising a baseline survey of the plant life on the evolving meadow. Some of you will have heard Matt speak at the recent Eaton Eco Fair and/or at last year’s YVS AGM.

Matt writes: “As last year was the first proper year that Strawberry Field was managed as a wildflower meadow, we are keen to get a baseline for the richness and diversity of plant life on the field. This will give us an idea of the positive impact of this new management (cut, collect and removing arisings off site) and add to the value of the site. It will also give data to the Norfolk biodiversity information service. They are calling for this kind of baseline data and would very much appreciate our data.

A bit early, but you might find a fabulous Bee Orchid. Photo: Matt Tomlinson

The surveys will be by Quadrat (a simple square grid) thrown on the ground and a set number of plants marked if present (rapid grassland assessment). Experienced people will be in the teams to help out. If we have enough people, we can look for plant species not yet recorded on the meadow.

As always everyone is welcome and it’s a great opportunity to get up close with the meadows flora and insect life.”

The more of us there, the more we can achieve, so please join Matt and the Friends on Saturday 3rd of June from 10 am – 12. Meet by the gate at 10 am (if a bit late wander down and look for activity on the meadow).

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.

Desire lines given surfaces

An “official” gap in the hedge

As a further improvement to the Strawberry Field, selected gaps through the hedgerow between the Field and Bluebell Road have been given a hardcore surface. This is a great improvement on the mud that is often to be found there. They follow existing desire lines, and so presumably are gaps people will want to use. Hopefully they will become the access points, and there will be no further forcing of gaps in the hedgerow.

The gaps offer a way to join the Strawberry Field Track and by-pass the cycleway and the noise of the Bluebell Road traffic.