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Monday, January 05, 2009

Wildflower meadow campaign

My first post in 2009 is a few extracts from a letter I have written to my local Council which tries to give good reasons for keeping a 4 acre field as a local nature reserve rather than use it for building tennis courts, bowls club or just more football pitches.

"20 th December 2008

Dear Councillor,

Nature Reserve and Wildflower Meadow,

As the Council expects to be discussing the future of the old field at its meeting in January, may we remind you of the benefits of adopting the field as a nature reserve and wildflower meadow.

( local school children on a field visit on an adjoining farm during the Kingfisher Project)

A new path winds its way round all sides of the field providing a well cut, firm and reasonably level path. The path is intended to provide access for everyone including those with disabilities, so that all can appreciate the natural beauty of the meadow. It can also be used as a fitness trail. (Visitor numbers are rising steadily.)

( Oct 2008 view of walking / jogging trail round field)

Leading off the main trail will be smaller paths cut into the centre of the field, and from April through to July and usually into August you will be able to get close to both Pyramidal and Bee Orchids.

( Bee Orchid)

You will see many fine examples of the interesting and attractive Broomrape, looking similar to the orchids, and which grows and flowers as a parasitic plant, usually on the roots of clover.


Numerous butterflies of a dozen or so species will be seen all over the field and birds will be attracted by the trees. At the eastern end is a mature blackthorn hedge, which in the spring looks magnificent in a total covering of blossom, later to become sloes. This bushy hedge is a haven for birds and other wildlife including the scarce Brown Hairstreak butterfly whose eggs can be seen during the winter by close inspection of the young hedge growth. In the spring there are large clumps of cowslips to admire. The path loops round so that you can enjoy the full spread of the blackthorn in bloom and then turns along the southern side.

(massed white blossom on blackthorne)

Yellow Rattle has been introduced in the field, which has the effect of reducing the growth of the grasses and this in turn helps the more delicate wildflowers. However the grasses are home for the lovely Marbled White butterfly which in a good year can be seen in great numbers.

If you stop to look carefully at the grasses you will find several species of grasshopper, the very impressive Great Green Bush Cricket and no doubt many other insects and moths. There are small mammals in and around the edges of the field and from time to time larger birds can be seen such as Sparrow Hawks, Kestrels and Buzzards and even optimistic Herons. A survey of birds in the field taken in 2007 showed a total of 21 species which we anticipate will increase in coming years. Along the southern boundary, in the adjoining field, a new hedge with seven native hedging plants was created in 2007 and has taken well in its first year. This hedge will begin to flower and produce berries even during its second year and this will be an attractive addition to the landscape and a major boost to the bird population in particular. The hedge plant list is: Blackthorn, Quickthorn, Field Maple, Spindle, Wayfaring Tree, Wild Privet and Dogwood. The next few years will see the trees and new hedge adding to the attractiveness of the meadow and increasing populations of wildlife and wildflowers. Educational visits will be encouraged for all ages to experience this fine example of a rapidly vanishing feature of Somerset life."

Except where stated the photographs have all been taken on the field at various times.