On the evening of Friday 5th September we’ll looking for moths in the Meadows, led by Martin Anthoney, the county recorder for butterflies and macro-moths. Meet at the Byfield Lane entrance to the Meadows at 8pm: all welcome, no need to book.
We were delighted to hear this morning that Castle Meadows has been judged one of the top 102 green spaces in Wales, having been awarded a Green Flag under a scheme managed by Keep Wales Tidy. The award recognises the value of the Meadows to the people of Abergavenny and Monmouthshire, and as an important natural habitat, and commends the council and the community for their work in managing and promoting them. It also encourages us all to continue and increase those efforts.
A few weeks ago the Monmouthshire Environment Partnership Board organised a bioblitz weekend with Friends of Castle Meadows, Gwent Wildlife Trust, Monmouthshire Countryside Service and the South East Wales Biological Records Centre. Over the two days, school classes and members of the public took part in various events to discover and celebrate the wildlife around Abergavenny Castle and the Meadows. Experts were available as guides to pond and river dipping, moth trapping and bat detecting and four walks around the Meadows were led by Brecon Beacons National Park, Gwent Wildlife Trust and Gwent Ornithological Society. Various local wildlife groups set up gazebos in the castle grounds to talk about their particular interests.
We estimate that around 300 people visited one or more of the events: a good turnout, but still fewer than the 324 different species that were identified during the event. Would you have guessed that the meadows contained at least 156 different plants, 44 birds, 6 fish, 3 mammals, 2 amphibians, 88 invertebrates (moths, butterflies, bees, dragonflies, beetles and more) and no fewer than 25 different molluscs (slugs and snails)? Thanks to all the various experts, we’ve added them all to our lists of species on the meadows. We’re sure there are even more to find: let us know if you spot them.
Weeding the garden normally involves kneeling down, looking at a couple of leaves half an inch above the soil, and trying to figure out whether they are wanted or not. In the copse at the moment, the problem is a bit different, as the weeds are 10-12 feet tall and easily identifyable!
When we cleared the undergrowth and trimmed some of the trees last winter, the aim was to let more light in to encourage the native woodland plants to grow. However it seems that there were a lot of seeds of Himalayan Balsam in the soil as well – probably washed in by floods in previous winters – and they have responded enthusiastically to our efforts, leaving everything else as much in the dark as it was before.
The good news is that balsam is an annual, and we’ve removed a lot of it before it had a chance to set more seeds. So with a bit of luck we should have exhausted most of the supply and next year the slower, longer-lived perennial plants will have a better chance. That’s certainly what has happened in the areas around the stream that we cleared last year – this spring there were yellow irises where last year there was a similar balsam jungle.
Thanks to everyone for their hard work this morning – the positive news about giant weeds is that you can clear a lot of ground in a relatively short time.