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Monday, December 10, 2007

Local news

For the last post on recent wildlife news I am reporting on three local activities which are wildlife related developments I have got involved in on a personal basis.

Firstly there is the 4 acre field owned by a group of local residents. This was briefly mentioned in a post on May 29th 2007 but otherwise has been neglected. Here is a summary report I prepared earlier for a management plan for the field and which gives some idea of the fields value.

"This field of unimproved grassland was purchased by a Syndicate of local residents on May 22nd 2005 to ensure that it remained undeveloped. It has been submitted for registration as a County Wildlife Site at the suggestion of SERC. It is hoped that an adjoining similar sized field to the north of the meadow, with a similar flora, can be linked in part at least so as to add to the ecological importance of both .This adjoining field known as the Rugby Field is currently being transferred to the ownership of the Curry Rivel Parish Council. The adjoining land to the south of the meadow is owned and farmed in a manner sympathetic to the aims of the Syndicate and incorporates wildlife friendly measures in its management."

To establish the value of the meadow a survey of the flora was carried out in two stages in Aug 2005 and May 2006. The survey results showed that: “The field and hedgerows contain 105 higher plant species, including two orchid species. The number of grass species is particularly striking, totalling 24.” And also that “the hedges are classified as species rich with 15 different woody species present indicating they are several hundred years old.”

No formal survey has been made so far of butterflies or moths but observations made by members of the Syndicate have resulted in claims of sightings for the following butterflies.



Coppers, Hairstreaks

& Blues




Clouded Yellow

Brown Hairstreak

Small Tortoiseshell

Marbled White



Green Hairstreak

Painted Lady


Large White

Common Blue


Meadow Brown

Small White

Red Admiral



Since that was written it has been confirmed by SERC that the field is now a registered County Wildlife Site which is very encouraging. There is now a chance that some or all of the adjoining field can be conserved in a similar fashion. We take an annual hay cut as late as possible in August or early September and so far we have decided to manage without stock grazing in the autumn.
We are considering an application for a grant to establish a hedge on one long side and perhaps plant a few small native trees in two or three groups to encourage birds and make the area more attractive.

Secondly as mentioned the adjoining field is of interest to local residents because it is now owned by the local council. A meeting of residents has been called for 10th Dec to discuss how the field might be used for the benefit of residents. You wont be surprised to learn that with others we have submitted a proposal to keep it more or less as a nature reserve. Here is a part of our proposal to be considered at the meeting.

"This proposal will provide our community with:

A) A pleasant and attractive place for residents of all ages and abilities

for recreational activities including walking and use of a fitness trail and the physical involvement in the development and management of the area.

B) A new and special educational resource for residents of all ages.

C) A rare opportunity for the community to have access to an unspoilt open area, close to the steadily increasing density of housing. It would use an area recently recognised by “The Somerset Environmental Records Centre” (SERC) as of significant conservation value and designated a County Wildlife Site.

These benefits will be achieved by managing the use of the land to meet all three objectives. A management plan will be prepared to include:

1. A plan for the planting of small to medium size trees, native to Somerset, in several small groups and likely to attract SSDC grants. This is important for encouraging birds into the area which will include woodpeckers, hawks and owls. Similar plans are being developed for the adjoining field.

2. A plan for a path on a winding route around the area taking account of the new trees. The path can also double up as a fitness trail not only for walkers but could also be used for a running and fitness club open to young people in the village. We anticipate gaining the support of the local running club in getting this established.

3. Ways in which the field can be used as a resource by the village school will be explored. A small area could be designated for School use for study or outdoor activities. The Education Manager for the SWT has expressed support for this proposal"

It will be of great interest to see how the meeting reacts to our proposal.

Finally in this report there is the initiative taken by people in Langport to join other towns in becoming a Transition Town. Totness in Devon was one of the first to start a move to reducing dependence on fossil fuels especially oil as oil supplies world wide both get more expensive and eventually start to run out. Its early days for Langport but two meetings have been held so far and another is arranged for Tuesday 11th Dec.

There is a web site for more info here.

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