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.
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.
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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.”
“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!”
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.