Unidentified Floating Objects

When the new pond on the meadows was dug, it had an unnaturally sharp edge between water and land. We had hoped that the normal plants of such water margins would establish themselves naturally, but that hasn’t happened: we suspect because of the weight of human and animal feet.

Coir rings in the pondJust before lockdown we were able to launch these coir rings to help the process along. On these, water plants should be able to grow safe from trampling, creating a broader margin that has more wildlife habitats and is more attractive to humans to look at too. The plants should also help to improve water quality, by reducing the amount of soil erosion, trapping silt and consuming excess nutrients in the water.

Thanks to MCC and HabitatAid for their contributions

Copse Memorial

Last Saturday saw the unveiling of the new memorial in the copse, in the presence of the Chairman of MCC, Sheila Woodhouse; the Mayor of Abergavenny, Tony Konieczny and a representative from the British Legion.

A Brownie, the Chair of MCC and the Mayor did the unveiling and a cornet player from the Abergavenny Town Band played the “Last Post”.

Those who were present considered it a most appropriate place to have such a memorial, because it was calm and tranquil.

Flounces, Thorns, Carpets and Shells

YellowShellMoths have much better names than butterflies! On Friday night we had a visit from the Gwent county moth recorder with his (reasonably) portable lamp and generator. Set up for a couple of hours as it grew dark this attracted three different kinds of yellow underwing (Large, Lesser and Broad-bordered), three rustics (Flounced, Square-spot and the recently arrived Vine’s), Green Carpet (which is patterned like a carpet, it doesn’t eat them!), Light Emerald, Flame Shoulder, Ruby Tiger, Dusky Thorn, Setaceous Hebrew Character and the Yellow Shell that illustrates this post. An enthusiastic audience of children and adults were kept busy trying to capture these in clear plastic pots for inspection and identification.

Llanfoist Year 1

The final summer term Young Friends of Castle Meadows session recently took place when Year 1 pupils from Llanfoist Primary School revisited the site in order to take part in some different activities.

Starting off in the Horse Chestnut copse the young naturalists identified a range of ‘minibeasts’ by using their pots, brushes and magnifiers. Their was no shortage of the usual suspects i.e. ants, woodlice, beetles etc. as well as ladybirds and, lurking in the longer grass, a cricket. The class were also set an afternoon research task involving identifying the number of legs on the millipede!
After a short break the children then went into neighbouring Linda Vista to devise suitable habitats for the stuffed toy versions of stoats, badgers, rabbit, hedgehogs and rabbits. They even located a rare red squirrel up a tree (!) before the excited group made their way back to school.

Llanfoist Young Friends

Twenty-nine Year 1 pupils from Llanfoist Primary School became the latest Young Friends of Castle Meadows after a recent session spent pond dipping and playing food chain activities in the meadows. Led by Monmouthshire Countryside Service and Friends volunteers the children greatly enjoyed the hands on activities. They were especially delighted and / or horrified when the pond dipping yielded up a water scorpion into the water tray. Within no time the water scorpion demonstrated the practical lesson of the food chain in action to the extreme cost of the sticklebacks and water boatmen in the tray!

The species identified during the morning were:

  • Pond Snails
  • Sticklebacks
  • Water Boatmen
  • Pond Skaters
  • Fly Larvae
  • Phantom Midge Larvae
  • Midge Larvae
  • Hog-louse Leech
  • Hairworms
  • Beetle Larvae
  • Water Scorpion.

A very tired group made their way back to school at the end of morning, but they’re looking forward to another visit in a few weeks when they will be discovering mini-beasts and exploring animal habitats.

Llanfoist Primary: Orienteering

Thirty Year 5 pupils from Llanfoist Primary School became the latest Young Friends of Castle Meadows following a recent orienteering session. The students demonstrated excellent map reading skills as they searched for clue cards comprising photos of the flora and fauna of the meadows, its ponds and the adjoining River Usk. After two and a half hours an excited and very hungry group made its way back to school, but not before a highly alert trio of girls located one of the area’s geocache locations en route.