Down on the Meadows, our pond is nicely full of water. Like this it can attract moorhens, kingfishers and many other wildlife species. In the past the level of water in the pond depended on how much rain there had been – in summer it could dry out completely – but in future it should be a lot more reliable. We’ve used our share of the 2017 Food Festival’s Community Fund to install a pipe that will divert a small quantity of water from the Cibi Brook when the pond needs topping up. Better for wildlife to live and feed in, and for humans to look at.
The patch was seeded with native wildflower seed by a group of Abergavenny Brownies. Petunias were grown by the Greenfingers team. Weeding, watering and in-filling has been carried out by the Friends of Castle Meadows. The age profile of the individuals who took part is 7-70 years.
We chose the site because it is accessible to all including those with limited mobility.
Year 4 pupils from Cantref School have become the latest Young Friends of Castle Meadows.
At a recent session the 28 students enjoyed pond dipping and food chain game activities with Monmouthshire Countryside Service and Friends volunteers.
The heat-wave has proved popular not only with the youngsters but also with the inhabitants of the main pond. This year’s dip yielded a record number of species finds. Among the Cantref students discoveries were pond snails; water boatmen; frogs; sticklebacks; smooth newts; palmate newts; bloodworms; ramshorn snails; water scorpions; whirligig beetles; non biting midge larvae; hog lice; minnows; dragonfly larvae; caddis fly larvae, pond skaters; dragonfly nymphs; damselfly nymphs; water fleas, and a leech. Perhaps unsurprisingly the frogs provided the biggest interest, although the activities of the water scorpions and the leech helped reinforce the lessons of the food chain activity!
Working with Monmouthshire Countryside Service and Friends volunteers the Year 4 students rapidly demonstrated excellent map reading and nature spotting skills, although one group identified a buttercup as a dandelion and snails as slugs!
Before departure the group identified a couple of geo-cache locations. Their class teacher reported back her amazement that ‘after all that running round they still had the energy for a game of football and dodge-ball when they got back to school in the afternoon!’
Around thirty Year 4 pupils from Gilwern Primary School became the newest Young Friends of Castle Meadows following a recent visit.
The group enjoyed a ninety minute long orienteering session in the warm sunshine, made more memorable for some who battled on after tussles with stinging nettles and another incident involving the rescue of a pair of pink trainers which had come adrift from the wearers foot in a boggy part of the meadows!
More local schools will be welcomed for orienteering, pond dipping and other activities over the summer term.
On 25th April, at 11am, there will be a formal unveiling of the monument celebrating the National Eisteddfod that was held on the Meadows in 2016. All are welcome to attend the ceremony, which we expect to last about half an hour. There will be choral contributions from the Welsh primary schools of Caldicott and Abergavenny, with short spoken contributions from primary school pupils from the Abergavenny area. The Archdruid will attend, as well as dignitaries form the Town and County Councils. The event will take place regardless of the weather!
The event had been scheduled for St David’s Day itself but the heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures led to its postponement. One week on the Friends’ clean up, along with the faster flow resulting from the snowmelt, meant that a previously part blocked 60 m stretch of the river was running clear and fast towards the Usk by the end of the session.
Along with the 6 bags of waste taken away at the end, among the more noteworthy removals was a car wheel and tyre as well as a vehicle’s complete exhaust pipe cunningly camouflaged as a fallen log.
Pictured are FCM volunteers alongside the Cibi.