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.
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!’