Monmouthshire County Council Countryside Service, working with Friends volunteers, recently reinstated the wooden rail which helps walkers from the Mill Street entrance drop down to the level for the entrance to the meadows proper. Many walkers had missed this assistance, and those spoken to during the session were very appreciative of its reappearance.
Volunteers also cleared the surrounding pathways of grass and weed growth, and in so doing revealed a width which they couldn’t recall ever seeing in the first place. Only another 850 metres of pathway / cycleway from the meadows entrance to the Llanfoist Bridge to go!
Thanks to MCC we now have a new bridge to replace the one that floated away in the floods caused by Storm Calum last year.
One dog was perhaps a little too keen to try out the new crossing!
This morning twelve of us joined Steve Butler to see what birds were making use of the Meadows in winter. Most of the 31 species were familiar residents, though at this time of year many of these birds may in fact be migrants from colder parts of Europe. Short winter days may have made the little grebe – which is resident but usually much harder to see – less shy. But the winter highlights were a flock of around twenty redpolls, and a thrush identification parade as two migrant redwings fed close to a resident song thrush.
Species seen or heard: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, carrion crow, chaffinch, collared dove, cormorant, dipper, dunnock, goldcrest, goldfinch, goosander, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, greenfinch, grey heron, house sparrow, jackdaw, lesser black-backed gull, lesser redpoll, little grebe, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, nuthatch, redwing, robin, song thrush, starling, woodpigeon.
Join us (weather permitting) for a new year bird walk around Castle Meadows and Linda Vista Gardens with Steve Butler. Meet at 10am, Sunday 6th Jan, in the Byfield Lane car park, with suitable footwear and binoculars if you have them.
On October 12th and 13th, Storm Callum dropped a lot of rain in South Wales. Many places further up the Usk valley than Abergavenny had aound 200mm of rain in 48 hours – more than they usually get in the whole of October. The results on the Meadows were dramatic.
But this is what flood meadows are supposed to do: give the surge of water somewhere to go so the floods are reduced downstream. Indeed although the Llanfoist Bridge water gauge appears to have recorded its highest lev el ever, further downstream the levels were less extreme.
On October 11th, the Abergavenny Rainbows took advantage of a gap in the bad weather to plant daffodil bulbs in a corner of the meadows. Watering in was not considered necessary, given the forecast!
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.