Water Meadows Chronicles

The Water Meadows Chronicles part 13 (August 2020)

Iain Carruthers-Jones is back on the case reporting his experiences as a Bury Water Meadows Group volunteer.  See previous Chronicles here.

This seems a good time to restart the Chronicle. It’s one of the very hottest days of the year (07/08/20) and the Water Meadows has lots of plants growing as high as head height, including nettles, hemlock and brambles. There are butterflies and moths everywhere, there are muntjac deer, swans with a cygnet, a partridge with four cheepers and several hedgehogs with hoglets.

On the sadder side, the freeing up from lockdown has led to a proliferation of cans and bottles thrown into the rivers and dropped along the verges of the paths. Saddest of all, the information board by the Lark bridge in the Crankles has been vandalised with the board stolen/taken away and the support table torn out of the ground and dumped in the river. It’s hard to understand why people do this sort of thing.

The volunteer programme has started again. It is good to see the familiar faces show up again and get stuck in. A recent group set to sweeping and raking up the cuttings left by the big mower in the South Crankles. That was hot work but, as always, very satisfying. We were encouraged by passers-by and, hopefully, a potential new BWMG member. Given the heat of the day, one of the volunteers suggested that we should get a mower with a hopper for collecting the cut materials. This would save a lot of raking thus freeing the volunteers to do some of the other myriad things on the “to do” list. We are needing sponsorship for this; please step forward with ideas, suggestions and financial support.

The new work plan is being finalised at the moment. There will be quite a lot to do in the coming months and so there will be a call for both existing volunteers and new volunteers once the timetable has been finalised. We are hoping that Bury will not be subject to a second lockdown like some parts of the country. Stay safe, stay socially distanced; we are looking forward to seeing everyone again soon.

The biodiversity survey is under way. A few months late but we are feeling braver about venturing out. The survey volunteers have been busy, while at the same time respecting and following the guidelines, and we have been accumulating bird sighting records since early July. There’s been quite a variety of birds. At the smaller end of the size scale we have seen treecreepers and long tailed tits while at the bigger end we have seen swans and a solitary buzzard. If anyone has seen more than one buzzard, please let me know. Anna Saltmarsh and I have located a raptor’s nest and we suspect that it is the buzzard’s nest but it looks like it has not been used recently. Perhaps next year.

We have also been surveying butterflies and moths. Jillian Macready and I have started to survey in the Crankles and No Mans Meadow. This is really an extension of the transect survey that Jillian has been doing for several years. Simply put, we walk a set route around the Crankles (North and South), No Mans Meadow and the Lark path from the road near the garage to the Lark Bridge in the Crankles. We have seen several types of butterfly with the various categories of Whites dominating.

Anna Saltmarsh, Jillian Macready and I have been recording plants, especially flowering ones, in No Mans Meadow, South Crankles and North Crankles. The Crankles have a rich diversity of plants some with quite a pedigree of ancient medicinal uses as well as amusing names. We’ve logged black mullein, pink ladies, bristly oxtongue, creeping bent, fleabane, purple loosestrife and hemp agrimony among many others. Ram Meadow is yet to be surveyed methodically but that will be rectified very shortly.

So as this edition of the Chronicle comes to an end (25/08/20), I am glad to hear that the volunteer work party programme has been planned for the coming months. So to speak, it is back in business. I look forward to seeing my fellow volunteers again. If you are thinking of joining us and becoming part of our volunteer group then please contact us.