This blog is written by employees of Nottinghamshire County Council, the views in this blog are personal and may not be shared by the County Council.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Feeding time!

A morning stroll down the Wetland Conservation Area proved to be quite productive this morning. After seeing two juvenile Kingfishers playing down there yesterday I took my camera down this time.......and typically they were nowhere to be seen, but needless to say nature did not disappoint.
The feeders have been restocked recently for some supplementary feeding and they drew in the regulars and a couple of non-regulars. Below are Coal tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch and the rarer Marsh Tit.

Also feeding away was a noisy Nuthatch who does not like sharing very much. In the third frame along it shows a pair of Marsh Tits.

And finally below are a few other photos taken as well, they include a Cormorant flying over, some teasel (which we have left for birds like Goldfinches as they love the seed) and a couple of Autumn leaf photos.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Leanne's Meadow

Rufford Abbey’s Meadow is a Lowland Acid Grassland which is an uncommon grassland type in the British lowlands and is of regionally high importance for nature conservation (Notts LBAP).  The grasslands western boundary was the site of a bowling green and pavilion, whilst the eastern side was amenity grassland and has a long history of being managed for recreation whether it formal or informal depending on the period in history.
Lowland Dry Acid Grassland is traditionally grazed by livestock in order to control the more vigorous coarser flora and produce a tall, fine sward suitable for invertebrates and wild flowers. However, this is an unsuitable management option at Rufford due to the amount of visitors that use the site, so we do the next best thing. The grassland is cut in late September/early October and the horizons removed to reduce the intake of nutrients from the rotting cut sward, it is then chain harrowed every 2 years in February to break up the grass thatch and promote a finer sward growth. Any dead matter that is left lying on the ground can have adverse effects on this habitat as it changes the PH in the soil that can be detrimental to the species that call the meadow home. A good example of this is the leaching of the limestone path that runs at the side of the meadow, if you look at it closely you can see the colour change from green to brown.
The meadow is home to a wide variety of species such as;

Bitter Vetch (Lathyrus montanus)Occasional
Common mouse-ear (Cerastium holosteoides) (C.fontanum)Rare
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Occasional
Devils Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) Frequent

Devils Bit Scabious

Pignut (Conopodium majus) Frequent
Smooth Meadow Grass (Poa pratensis) - Frequent
Wood Betony (Stachys betonica) Occasional
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium - Occasional
Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) - Rare
Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)Frequent
Common Bent (Agrostis capillaries) - Dominant
Heath Bedstraw (Galium saxatile) - Occasional
Sheep’s Fescue (Festuca ovina) - Abundant
Sweet Vernal Grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum) - Frequent
Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) - Occasional
White (Dutch) Clover (Trifolium repens) - Abundant
Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus) - Dominant

Yellow Stagshorn ((Calocera viscosa)
Devil’s Fingers (Clathrus archeri)
The site has been managed according to its vegetation Classification since 2009 (pre this it had 1 annual cut a year) and we have seen a significant improvement in its floral composition and diversity over the past 5 years and continue to work to improve and enhance its condition.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Mowing the meadow

Here are a few time-lapse photos of the meadow being mown. 

Soon to follow will be a descriptive post about what grows in the meadow and why we cut it when we do.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Trails, bird feeders and minibeast hunting!

Last week we had a school group in to do some environmental activities.
There were 3 groups, so we had them doing different activities throughout the day.
Their arrival was staggered so the early groups went out looking for different colours, shapes and textures of leaves. They did brilliantly and glued them to tree outlines to make a leaf tree.
After all groups were present one went off to hunt for minibeasts, the second went off to do a tree leaf trail and the third group made a pine cone bird feeder smothered in lard and seed.
Fun was had by all and loads of stuff was found whilst minibeast hunting, this included;
grasshoppers, ladybirds, caterpillars, spiders, flies, parasitic wasps, beetles and loads of leafhoppers.
Below is a picture of a huge beetle found by one of the children.

The pine cone feeders and tree leaf trail were also very popular and the children found all of the leaves on the sheet, these included oak, silver birch and mulberry.