Events & Activity Days 2020
As you know, work in the park has been undertaken in an ad hoc way in small groups of by individuals. Much has been achieved and things are ticking over quite nicely. We were able to get a large red cutting machine on caterpillar tracks which was radio controlled to cut back the brambles, particularly on the northern boundary of the park. This was in September and it made short work of the brash.
Our October work party was split into three groups with two groups of five working on Hall Field and clearing brash, two volunteers worked on cutting back bushes in the shrubbery. Hawthorn self-seeded in Hall Field and needed to be cleared, along with blackthorn and brambles. All the guidelines and social distancing protocols were observed, volunteers brought their own tools and leather gloves and a lot of good work was done. They made a real difference to Hall Field. The shrubbery also looks neater.
Meadow Park September/October 2020
As you are all aware our work party sessions were stopped after the one in March due to Covid 19. During the following months, individuals carried out tasks such as pruning path edges etc. on their own or in household groups. One of our committee volunteers for Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and they have created a set of guidelines to enable small work parties to meet. We have been able to use these to begin our work again. Basically only six people can work at a time (12 if there are two team leaders i.e. five volunteers + one team leader per group). The two metre distancing rule is applied. Volunteers have brought their own equipment/tools and a significant amount of work has been done. Andy contacts our volunteers individually so that there are no mix ups regarding who may or may not be included on a team. The work parties have been on any day of the week to suit those willing and able to come along. A Covid 19 Risk Assessment form provided by RBC via Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust has been applied and our Parish Council provides insurance so long as we adhere to these guidelines. Obviously if things change our work parties will change or stop as recommended.
One of the most important jobs the work parties have done is repair the log circle for Forest School which re-started mid-September. The wire fixings had been prised apart and the logs displaced, also the posts that carry the tarpaulins in wet weather had been dislodged. Volunteers mended everything and re-set the posts in time for the first time the children met.
Update on Himalayan balsam:
Himalayan balsam can flower up to October and the explosive seed pods can jettison seeds up to ten metres from the parent plant. The rivers and streams can carry the seed for miles. When the problem was assessed in the Park it was obvious that Hb was well established. Tony, a Friend of Meadow Park who lives in Costock emailed to tell us it was growing in the brook at the back of his house. It can be found miles away along Kingston Brook. Initially Conrad Oatey (Chairman of EL Parish Council) thought a small group could get to grips with the problem, but increasingly it became clear just how much Hb there is. He has contacted Trent Valley Internal Drainage Board and it is hoped they will soon be able to tackle it. Meanwhile our intention is to deal with the Hb in the Park. We will not uproot it (as that damages the river banks) but will take off all the flowers and cut it back where possible.
The extent of the Himalayan balsam problem
Colonising rail and river banks, wastelands and woodlands, Himalayan balsam was introduced to the British Isles in 1839 by Victorian plant hunters who were keen on its beautiful pink flowers and exploding seed pods. The plant has had plenty of time to establish in the UK and, over the last 50 years, has spread rapidly.
But Himalayan balsam is a problematic plant. It competes with native plants for light, nutrients, pollinators and space, excluding other plants and reducing biodiversity. It dies back in the winter, leaving river banks bare and open to erosion. Dead leaves and plant debris from the weed block waterways and lead to flooding.
Traditional ways of controlling the plant, either by pulling it up or spraying it with chemicals, don’t or can’t always work, because the plant often grows in difficult to reach places and delicate river sites. And it spreads quickly. Like most non-native plant species, Himalayan balsam arrived in the UK without any of the natural enemies that keep it in check in its native range – in this case, the foothills of the Himalayas in Pakistan and India, and western Nepal. Without these natural enemies, the plant has an advantage over native species and grows more aggressively than it normally would.
It’s also expensive to manage. In 2003, the Environment Agency estimated it would cost £300 million to eradicate Himalayan balsam from the UK entirely.
We have had a particularly good year for the number and variety of wild flowers in the meadows this year. The hay cut was timed to ensure the flowers had set their seed. The Arboretum was left uncut (it is cut every other year) to allow a bit of a ‘wild’ area for small mammals.
Although we have not been able to meet for the regular work parties since early March, individuals have worked on their own to do some of the on-going jobs that are always needed. The butterfly bank in Play Field has been weeded, with seed and plug plants being scattered and planted. Trees have been inspected and watered wherever possible. Sadly the very hot spells of weather we have experienced this year has killed off some of the whips/saplings we planted in the first three months of the year.
Some of us thought we had found a ‘new’ plant to the park. Red bartsia was spotted in Play Field, not far from the butterfly bank and caused some interest. However Neil was able to clarify that it has been present here for some years in the top north-west corner of Play Field and also possibly in Hall Field. It does not grow in profusion, but is obviously well established.
Red bartsia is a common plant in low-fertility soils, where it lives partially as a parasite on the roots of grasses. The red bartsia has pinkish and red flowers from June to September. It prefers dry conditions and full sun light exposure and is pollinated by bees and wasps.
Although over the last 70 years, the red bartsia has disappeared from many woodland locations in Dorset it is still a common plant of roadside verges, railway cuttings, waste ground and other disturbed ground in the UK.
Himalayan balsam has appeared along the Kingston Brook edges, on both sides of Kingfisher Bridge. It is a pernicious invader, despite looking very beautiful when in flower. It is an annual plant and the main method of control is to remove flowers/seed heads. Neil thinks it may be coming downstream as small amounts have been found in previous years all the way up the brook to Willoughby-on-the-Wolds. It can spread quite quickly (it’s become a real problem along many streams and riversides across the UK). Kevin G went down and beheaded the Himalayan balsam (as well as uprooting it). There was quite a lot and he took out 19 plants in all (some quite big). He wryly noted that although he was attacked by the nettles he managed not to fall in the brook. Andy put on waders and attacked the plant from the brook. All plants and seed heads have been responsibly disposed of. Himalayan balsam’s aggressive seed dispersal, coupled with high nectar production which attracts pollinators, often allow it to outcompete native plants. It also promotes river bank erosion due to the plant dying back over winter, leaving the bank unprotected from flooding. Himalayan balsam can also adversely affect indigenous species by attracting pollinators at the expense of indigenous species. The plant was first introduced to the UK in 1839, at the same time as giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed. They were sold as fast spreading plants of ‘herculean proportions’ which meant that ordinary people could buy them to rival the expensive orchids grown in the greenhouses of the rich. It soon escaped gardens and grew profusely in the wild. It has now spread across most of the UK and some local wildlife trusts organise ‘balsam bashing’ events to help control it.
Work continued in the park in an ad hoc way due to lockdown. Some weeding and watering was done and the committee is thinking of ways to work in small groups to cut back overhanging branches, pull rank weeds etc.. In due course working parties will recommence.
The importance of meadows and grassland
Grassland stores more carbon than forests because they are impacted less by drought and wildfires. Unlike forests, grassland sequesters most of their carbon underground while forests store it mostly in woody biomass and leaves. When wildfires cause trees to go up in flames the buried carbon they formerly stored in released back into the atmosphere. When fire burns grasslands, however, the carbon fixed underground tends to stay in the roots and soil, making them more adaptive to climate change. Professor Benjamin Houlton and Pawlok Dass at University of California, Davis: ‘In a stable climate, trees store more carbon than grasslands. But in a vulnerable, warming, drought-like future, we could lose some of the post productive carbon sinks on the planet.’
With this in mind we will plant any additional trees at the edges of fields or in headland areas. This will not only keep the soil untilled but will make mowing easier.
We are delighted to tell you that a small heath butterfly has been spotted in the park for the first time. It was found in Bateman Field, near Kingston Brook. However, it is unlikely to be anything more than a visitor as the caterpillar hibernates over winter, pupates around the end of April and hatches in May. Eggs are laid in late May and the new caterpillars hatch, feed and pupate in July just when our grass is cut, sweeping up the eggs and/or pupa.
Generally the butterfly population has been good this year with numbers of orange tip, tortoiseshell, red admiral, meadow brown, ringlet and common blue in the meadows.
One interesting observation is that lots of peacock butterfly caterpillars have been seen feeding on nettles (and wandering across paths looking for places to pupate). Look out for these in the summer.
The Big Butterfly Count this year will be between Friday 17th July and Sunday 9th August. Go online to find out more details. Results from short observations are collated and help to give a better idea of how climate and changes in habitat are affecting out butterfly population.
We were not able to cut back the growth in Hall Field this year due to the wet weather followed by lockdown. As a result some of the lower growing plants may have suffered but should recover if we manage to get on with cutting and clearing again over the autumn and winter. We will leave some areas uncut to provide winter habitat for small creatures.
Recent flooding in the village revealed the problem of sewage disposal as the water across Gotham Road, the children’s playing field and Meadow Park was tested and found to be contaminated. The Environment Agency was contacted and a report made. Glen Yeomans (RBC) visited the pumping station and we asked about putting up signage warning residents about the pollution at times of flooding. Alan Barlow asked how the pollution could be stopped and was told that separating the pipes between sewage and runoff is the only answer, but this would cost millions of pounds. However, putting in a new 10 inch pipe to the sewage farm from the pumping station would help the situation. The Environment Agency has the power to fine STW and demand that the act appropriately. Alan had a follow up meeting with the Trent Valley Drainage Board at the end of February and working in conjunction with Parish Clerk Neil Lambert they contacted RBC, NCC Flood team and even the Highway Agency to no immediate avail. Action was finally taken when Andy Brown (Rushcliffe Councillor) stepped in and involved Kay Cutts (the CEO of the County Council), who held an emergency meeting and asked those involved to provide appropriate wording for signage at times of flooding and sewage egress. The Environment Agency and STW have now been told to provide appropriate signage to warn of pollution when it floods. Discussions continue to get Severn Trent to deal with the problem.
April saw many people walking in the park as playgrounds were closed and residents took advantage of the lockdown and visited the park in greater numbers. Someone put up pictures of Easter eggs and rabbits for the younger children to have a ‘treasure’ hunt’ and this was very enjoyable.
March 2020 (and lockdown from March 23rd)
Forest School met in early March for the last time before lockdown. The log circle, moved by the floods and further damaged as some lumps have been carved out of them, needs to be repaired when volunteers are cleared to work on the area safely.
The March work party planted alders in Gibson Field alongside the railway embankment. All came into leaf but the later hot, dry weather has killed some of them. Wild cherry was planted along Bateman Road boundary.
In the headland area of Play Field a limestone bank has been made with the old surface scraped off the paths and some extra chippings (several tons) bought in. The aim is to create a quarry floor type habitat. An environmentally friendly membrane was put down in front of the limestone mound to prevent rank weeds growing through. More limestone chippings were put on top of the membrane. During lockdown the bank became overgrown with hemlock and nettles. Kevin Gibbons weeded it and planted six bird’s foot trefoil plants and some kidney vetch. A small amount of wildflower seed from Naturescape was scattered which, hopefully, will show next year. The mound is located in a sheltered, sunny spot. Limestone loving plants like kidney vetch, bird’s foot trefoil, wild strawberry and marjoram will thrive and attract butterflies.
The meadows have seen wonderful displays of flowers this year, despite the flooding in the winter period caused by three subtropical storms: Brendan, January 13th-14th, Ciara February 8th-9th and Dennis February 15th-16th. A hot May inhibited the growth of long grass and the lower growing plants were more prominent. These include pepper saxifrage, lesser/marsh stitchwort, red clover, great burnet, common knapweed, ladies bedstraw, common sorrel, amphibious/common bistort, meadow buttercup, hay rattle and dropwort. We also had fantastic displays of cowslips. It was noticeable however, that we have seen fewer purple orchids this year.
Play Field: A new bench was donated and placed in Play Field. It has been cemented in.The drainage in one part of Play Field has been improved as volunteers dug out one corner and put drainage pipes in. On July 4th the outdoor gym could once again be used.
Earlier in the year the wet soil in the arboretum was having an adverse effect upon some of the trees. The larch is struggling and the sweet chestnut has died. The trees are being monitored. Grass cutting in the arboretum is very difficult and time consuming and the committee is looking at ways of doing the in a less mechanised way – either with a small mower or even by hand. Cutting the grass in the arboretum every other year would help small invertebrates, flowers etc.
Two strimmers donated
Two petrol strimmers have been donated to FMP. These will go through the Parish Council’s maintenance process and put to good use in the park. Two of our volunteers have the required approved training in their use. It may be that the arboretum area is strimmed in future rather than mown.
The working morning on Saturday 8th February was very productive. We planted 15 rowan trees (supplied by RBC) and one ash tree in Gibson Field, along the northern boundary of the wooded area just west of the willow structure. They survived storm Ciara 9th/10th February but the hot, dry weather in May has killed some of them.
The hazel in Gibson Field was coppiced and the blackthorn near the outdoor gym was pruned. Eric spotted the kingfisher by the brook.
There are several areas in the park which we coppice. Coppicing is a traditional method of managing woodland. The idea is to cut back the hazel growth every two of three years so that trees grow outwards, rather than upwards. The natural tendency of the hazel is to grow upwards but this causes a thick canopy like area which allows no light in. If it is coppiced the base of the tree will expand and cover a greater ground area. The overall effect we want to create is a mixture of levels, with some trees coppiced and others left on a rotational basis. This is much better for wild life.
The strong wooden structure along from the shrubbery area has been built to accommodate the limestone mix that will be used to repair paths in the future.
Path reinstatement in SW Corner of Gibson Field
You may have noticed how wet and churned up the ground was in the top south-west corner of Gibson Field (near the railway embankment). Over the winter the pathway had virtually disappeared. Co-incidentally a tree in St Mary’s church yard was pushing a wall down and had to be removed before it did more serious damage. The tree was felled and shredded. The chippings were used to re-create the path in the SW corner of Gibson Field. Tree Smart, a local firm took the chippings to the Bateman Road entrance and volunteers distributed them along the unsurfaced footpaths in that area.
The wet soil in the arboretum is having an adverse effect upon some of the trees. The larch and sweet chestnut look particularly sad and could develop problems in April. Grass cutting in the arboretum area is a very difficult and time consuming task and the committee have decided to investigate the possibility of doing this in a less mechanised way – either with a smaller mower or even by hand. Also mowing the arboretum area every other year would help small invertebrates, flowers etc..
You may remember that the trees along the boundary of Bateman Road, towards the railway embankment, were cut down in error by Street Wise. There is a requirement that Meadow Park has a defined boundary, so we decided to erect a fence. The fence has 40 posts and 400 metres of wire. Squeeze gaps for pedestrians have been carefully sited. The cost of the fence was very modest (under £500) and has been met out of our funds and your donations. We are always very grateful to our members and others who contribute via the boxes in village shops. The fence looks really good and we attacked the Russia Vine which was growing with enthusiasm.
Russian Vine is a pernicious invasive plant which was planted by an unknown resident and over-run the Bateman Road boundary. When the fence was erected large swathes of Russian Vine were dug up and disposed of. We had hoped to burn it, but the copious amounts of rain made this impossible. We had the stems and leaves shredded and disposed of the roots separately so that it could not re-grow. We know that this is only the first stage of tackling the problem and have seen some re-growth. It is virtually impossible to stop this shrub in the short term. Over time we will keep attacking it and hope in the not too distant future we will eradicate it completely.
Little egrets have been seen in the park in the autumn and winter as they migrate from the continent. It is one of our success stories as it is still classified as ‘uncommon’ in the UK.
We always try to quantify how many birds pass through the park in the winter months of each year. This winter we have seen very few migrants. No siskins were spotted, and only a few field fare and red wing. This is probably because it has been relatively mild and the birds have been able to ‘stay put’ so to speak and not journey far for food.
We think nearly all the bird boxes were used by small birds like great tits both this year and last year, but cannot quantify the actual number as last year it was too wet to place ladders at the base of trees and this year no checks will be done until early autumn. We have three bird boxes to put up ready for the next nesting season. They could not be put up in February as the land was too muddy/unstable
Events & Activity Days 2019
The Meadow Park Stollers Thursday afternoon walks in the park have proved very popular again this year. There have been as many as twenty people joining the walks to enjoy some gentle exercise and see the changing seasons in the park. The walk is now a recognised Health Walk as part of the Rushcliffe move and Mingle programme. They now have four leaders and meet at the Millstone in Thursdays at 1.30 pm for their thirty minute stroll. After their walk they visit Chefs Café for a cup of tea and a chat. A warm welcome is given to new walkers. The repairs to the paths have made their walks all the more enjoyable recently, even during wet weather.
Looking back at 2019 we have achieved a lot with the money brought in from members’ subscriptions and donations (£743) donations from our boxes in village shops and gifts from East Leake Dog show organisers (£913). We also had very generous donations, totalling £280, to the Arboretum sponsorship fund. There was a very generous grant from British Gypsum of £400 which was used to refurbish the notice boards and buy plug plants. We spent £305 on nest boxes, wild flower seeds and plants; £311 on plug plants and wild flower bulbs; £301 for news trees and associated equipment. Though our resources are small we manage to do a lot to improve the Park. It is very satisfying when people say hello and thank us as we get on with the work. In 2020 any funds we raise will go towards new fencing, weed control mats (around trees and shrubs) and a bench. No doubt other things will crop up that need spending on and we will take them in our stride.
The Thursday ‘Stroll in the Park’ continues to be very popular. If you want a gentle stroll lasting about 30 mins followed by a tea/coffee turn up a the millstone sculpture at 1.30 pm on Thursdays – but only in good/fair weather. For further information ring Anne: 079
Look out for autumn/winter plants, flowers, berries and fungi. There is much to see at this time of year. You may be interested in the variety of fungi this year – especially on the dead willows that were cut down in the spring. It has been a particularly good year for fungi and there are several species to spot (some just outside the park boundary near the millstone sculpture). Whatever the season there is always something of interest to see in Meadow Park
Fencing on Bateman Road boundary
You may remember that the trees along the boundary of Bateman Road, towards the railway embankment, were cut down in error by Street Wise. There is a requirement that Meadow Park has a defined boundary, so we decided to erect a fence. The fence has 40 posts and 400 metres of wire. Squeeze gaps for pedestrians have been carefully sited. The cost of the fence is very modest and has been met out of our funds and your donations. We are always very grateful to our members and others who either contribute by joining Friends of Meadow Park or via the boxes in village shops.
Volunteers also tackled the pernicious Russian Vine that has established itself on the Bateman Road boundary near the railway embankment. Though much was cutback or uprooted it will be an on-going task to keep it in check. Our hope is to get rid of it altogether in the not too distant future.
On October 15th the Park was flooded. Heavy rainfall and sewage overflow flooded Gotham Road and Meadow Park. The water was very deep and even flooded the Forest School site near the Bateman Road entrance. Our Parish Council are consulting with Rushcliffe to see if anything can be done. Dr Alan Barlow has taken water samples to see how bad the pollution was.
Paths in the Park
The limestone grit paths in the Park have been resurfaced this autumn. The paths were uneven and in some areas allowed rain water to ‘pool’. We put in a bid for funding from Notts County Council Local Improvement Scheme and East Leake Parish Council match funded the bid and a total £28,000 was raised. The limestone grit removed from the existing paths will be left as a fairly large heap (where exactly tbd) and seeded with flower varieties that like limestone.
The notice bards were refurbished and look really good.
Kingston Brook continues to concern us. The heavy rainfall this year saw high levels of water and faster flow. The overall effect is to increase the depth and breadth of the channel. The work carried out by the Trent Valley Internal Drainage Board in January did not extend to the brook outside the Park boundary and we have seen a build-up of debris in the brook in the area near the railway tunnel. They only have the resources to do the sections that are most readily accessed. The next big-scale work on the brook will be done in six to ten years’ time. A tree fell into the brook and was removed by Rushcliffe Borough Council in September.
The Bateman Road boundary project is underway, with posts etc ordered.
Forest School goes from strength to strength and the children from Year 3 Lantern LanePrimary School enjoy time spent in the Park and the learning activities they take part in. The children eat their lunch sitting on the log circle near the Bateman Road entrance and recently volunteers put up some strong, tree trunk poles from which a tarpaulin can be erected to keep the children dry in rainy weather. Unfortunately these poles looked very tempting for young climbers and they dislodged some of the posts. This was not really vandalism as the children did not realise their actions would cause any damage. The posts have been re-set and we are thinking of ways to inform youngsters that they are not for climbing up.
Work in the park has continued as usual. Volunteers have cut back branches overhanging footpaths and cleared scrub area. The Bee Worlds have been tidied up and some turf removed. The turf has been used to make mounds onto which the scrapings of the old limestone paths can be spread. Our intention is to scatter limestone loving wild flower seeds onto these man-made banks and see if they thrive. It would make a nice addition to the flora in the park.
We now have the outdoor gym in place. It is near Kingfisher Bridge and half way between the village centre and the Gotham Road estate in Play Field. It is proving to be very popular and those using it particularly like the location as it catches the evening sunlight. Many people are only able to visit the Park in the evening and have been very supportive of this initiative as it adds another dimension to an evening stroll. The gym cost £23,000 and the money came from Section 106 money (housing development) and the Parish Council.
Bateman Road Boundary
We need to think of how to show a clear boundary between the Park and Bateman Road. Not so long ago the trees along the boundary were accidentally cut down by Streetwise and the original fence fell into disrepair. We are considering putting up a post and wire fence leaving pedestrian ‘squeeze gaps’. There will be 40 posts and 400 metres of wire, with squeeze gaps for pedestrians being carefully sited. The task is weather and volunteer’s time dependent. The cost of the fence is very modest and has been met out of our funds. We are always very grateful to our members and others who either contribute by joining Friends of Meadow Park or contribute via the boxes in village shops.
Bats in the Park
We have borrowed a bat detector and have identified some of the bats in the Park. We have soprano pipistrelles, daubenton and whiskered bats in the Park, mostly by the railway embankment.
The wet weather continued but we made the best of it, continuing to keep the Park as tidy and user friendly as possible. Willow was harvested. The willow trees were pollarded. Sadly the meadows were mown on 10th July before the flowers had time to set seed. Flowers like greater burnet, birds foot trefoil and knapweed were all cut down. This will impact on the number and variety of butterflies, as well as bees and other insects in the Park. Also there will be fewer flowers next year. This was an unfortunate mistake and it is hoped we can find ways of ensuring it does not happen again. We have an agreed management plan which stipulates the meadows be mown in later August/beginning of September and it is now a case of finding a way to ensure this plan is adhered to.
Young People in the Park
Forest School continues to thrive. In their log circle by Bateman Road entrance we have put up some wooden poles from which a large tarpaulin can be strung to protect the children in wet weather. Bird spotting sessions were held in January and February and though the weather was not kind the children were very enthusiastic. Two sessions of paddling in the brook (in wellies) were undertaken on 8th and 15th July to great enjoyment. July also saw a large number of Lantern Lane children have ‘discovery workshops’ in the Park.
We have ordered a thousand more bulbs for the Park and village children (e.g. Lantern Lane School and guides) will be asked if they would like to plant some of them in the autumn. The bulbs are wild daffodil, wood anemone, fritillary and native bluebell.
Wild Flowers in the Park
Eight pepper saxifrage have been found in Gibson’s Field (almost certainly part of what was once known as the `Hall Meadow’). It made its appearance for the first time last year. The pepper saxifrage is mainly in the northern half of the field and appear to have survived as a relic population in this ancient hay meadow.
A new plant has been found in the Park – dropwort (like a small meadow sweet). It normally grows in dry pastures rather than wet meadows so may be an interloper. Dropwort used to be common in the Townlands Trust fields near the gypsum works before these old pasture fields (on medieval ridge-and-furrow) were sprayed with herbicide and chemically fertilised in the 1980s. The number and variety of wild flowers in the Park continues to increase year on year and we hope the early mowing does not have a long term effect.
The wet weather earlier this year has helped the saplings/trees in the Arboretum to thrive and (except the lime) are looking good. We think that the sessile oak sapling may not be what we thought, but another type of oak. Though looking similar to sessile oak, the late-leafing leaves and tasselled-twigs of this young tree don’t look quite right. It has every appearance of being a hybrid or the sort of oak found in southern or eastern Europe e.g. Hungarian or Turkey oak. We will consider our options here when we know its true identity. The grass in the Arboretum is usually cut every other year but it was cut this year (two years in a row) by accident. The reason for cutting alternate years is to allow small mammals and invertebrates to thrive and thus give birds a better food source. Also wild flowers have time to set their seed. We especially want to nurture hay rattle as it suppresses long grass with the effect of encouraging greater variety and numbers of wild flowers. The Arboretum will be left unmown next year.
The wet weather in June hampered efforts to work on the willow bed and keep pathways clear. Work continued on weeding, litter picking and general tidying up.
Sadly we have had some vandalism in the Park. In January the fire brigade was called to put out two fires in Hall Field. They arrived very quickly and damage was limited (but still over 40 volunteer hours were ‘lost’ as the good work done on the field was destroyed). An ash tree was stripped of bark and will consequently die/have to be cut down. A bird box was destroyed and the nest containing small chicks fell to the ground. We would urge anyone seeing any vandalism to report it. This is best done by ‘phoning 101 so that the damage can be logged or you can email Kelly Carlile, PC 1530, our community officer.
The loss of so many wildflowers is due to a combination of causes including intensive farming, pollution, urban sprawl and the loss of meadowland. Since 1940 we have lost 97% of our meadows. Around of third of the total 1,346 plant species in Britain are endangered.
In recent years, there have been considerable concerns over threats to wild bees and other insect pollinators which are vital to the success of important food crops and wild flowers.
Volunteers in Meadow Park are working hard to increase the number and variety of wild flowers. Year on year we are seeing wild flowers in greater profusion. The number of flower species recorded since 2006 now stands at 152, with recent new flowers such as the pepper-saxifrage (a member of the carrot family), and the southern marsh orchid (which has established and multiplied). What we find most encouraging is the greater abundance of the flowers in the Park. This is increasing the numbers of insects such butterflies and bees. We need a healthy insect population to ensure our birds have food. So far we are very pleased with the way things are going.
Meadow Park has had a good display of blossom this Spring and the wild flowers are looking very colourful. We aim to add to the flower selection in the Park, and have enough money from donations to buy some plug plants and bulbs (woodland variety). The selection will include native bluebells, wild daffodils, wood anemones, single snowdrops and fritillary. We planted nearly two hundred plug plants earlier in the year, especially in the areas near the Park entrances and these should add colour in due course. These plug plants included fifty primrose, fifty foxglove and fifty oxlip.
A little egret was photoed in Hall Field. Quite rare in the UK, there are only 700 breeding pairs.
The shrubs planted last year (around 130) have mostly survived and are now thriving. We had worries about them over the hot dry summer, but they were obviously very hardy. One working party weeded the area around each shrub in February and March – a painstaking task, but very rewarding.
We also have a number of saplings which have either been grown by some of our members or donated by friends. We have 12 alders, 12 wild cherry, a number juniper and rowan trees. The alders will be planted in Bateman Field, the wild cherry along the boundary of Lagoon Field and we’re not sure where to plant the others – but we’ll find a space or two.
The ‘Meet Your Village’ event on 13th April was very successful for Meadow Park volunteers and as well as raising the profile of what we do we signed up several new members.
In April and May volunteers worked on the shrubbery, clearing out the numberous pernicious weeds.
Sixteen new bird boxes have been put up at various places. One was in use as soon as it was nailed to the tree as a great tit had a look at it and came back with nesting material while our team was considering where to put the next box. We now have nearly thirty bird boxes and two bat boxes in the Park. We think that habitat loss is having an impact on our local bird population and this is where our gardens are so useful. You may think of putting up a nest box in your garden. The RSPB web pages give good information about what to buy (size of box for the species you know would use it, when to clean it out and how to make it squirrel proof).
Wild flowers seeds were sown in the Bee World near Bateman Road entrance and habitat construction in the copse near the Arboretum was undertaken in March’s working morning. The copses are areas small mammals can shelter/live. However, they are popular with dogs and so frighten the small mammals. We constructed a series of hatching/piles of brash to give protection and potential homes for small creatures.
We are looking to replace the trees cut down by accident on the boundary of Bateman Road. Streetwise had to clear up the area and were over-enthusiastic. We are looking for funding/help with this project from Rushcliffe Borough Council. We also plan to plant some more trees on Lagoon Field edge to encourage wild life in the area.
The loss of so many wildflowers is due to a combination of causes including intensive farming, pollution, urban sprawl and the loss of meadowland. Since 1940 we have lost 97% of our meadows. Around of third of the total 1,346 plant species in Britain are endangered.
In the Arboretum a replacement alder, a horse chestnut, a second beech and second wild cherry have been planted and all seem to be doing well. We have a juniper to plant sometime this year but it is very small at the moment and is being ‘grown-on’ and nurtured in a Friend’s back garden.
A new Bee World has been dug and seeded near the Bateman Road entrance and the second copse in Bateman Field has been completed. The hedging in the Arboretum area is now complete. The willow was harvested in February and has been sorted ready for use in the summer. Forest School children will enjoy making willow structures – both small and large.
The bird boxes have all been checked and cleared out ready for use this year. Some new boxes have been put up. We always get a good take up of residence in the boxes.
A new Bee World was dug in Bateman Field and seeded. The copse in Bateman Field was tidied and the branches/brash piled in hatching constructions (alternated cross branches) to created wild life ‘safe’ areas when dogs enter the copse. The structures will also make good nesting sites for small mammals.
Quite a lot of litter was picked up, mostly as a result of work done on the brook. It always amazes us how much plastic and packaging is picked up.
Over the winter period you may have seen a team of workers using heavy equipment along Kingston Brook. Responsibility for Kingston Brook is with the Trent Valley Drainage Board. They have a large area to look after, going up as far as Doncaster. The Parish Council and our chairman had a couple of meetings with them before Christmas to discuss future maintenance plans for the brook. The brook had become overgrown, some of the willows were in danger of falling and the water channel was blocked in several places .The purpose of the work was to remove blockages in the stream, check which willows were sound and fell those that were unsafe. You will have noticed a big difference in the area along the brook as most willows have now been pollarded (to avoid them splitting and falling into the brook). Several willows had to be cut down as they had died and were hollow. Some vegetation on the south side has been cut back as the working party needed to access to the brook. The dry summer (though difficult for us with problems for trees in the Arboretum and the early hay cut on 9th July) meant that the heavy equipment used in the operation did not churn the ground up to any great extent. The branches cut off have been burned. The working party in January spent quite a lot of time clearing up along the banks of Kingston Brook as the work exposed a lot of litter (especially of the plastic variety). The whole area now looks much better.
The dead trees in the Arboretum have been removed (Alder and Juniper). Holes were dug for the replacement saplings (Wild Cherry and Alder) to be planted in mid-January. We have bought a Juniper but it is too small to be planted in the Arboretum at the moment so it is being grown-on in a member of the committee’s back garden. We thought the Larch may have died, but it is still there and we hope will thrive in the Spring. Most of the 120 shrubs planted last year survuved and are thriving.
The work party continued with the hedge-laying in Bateman Field and cleared up the debris resulting from the work done by the Trent Valley Drainage Board. Streetwise now maintain the stretch of Sheepwash Brook between the road and the metal sculpture at the entrance to the Park which was found to be unregistered land.
For more information about what has happened in the park in the past please read our newsletters which are on our web pages.
Arboretum Information Board
Thanks to a grant from the East Midlands Airport Community Fund, we were recently able to install a board which explains to park visitors what an arboretum is all about, and gives details about ours in particular. It is sited next to the footpath beside the Arboretum in Bateman Field.