Flowers at Seaton Meadows with Joe Costley, Plantlife warden.
Under the guidance of Joe Costley we surveyed the flowers and learnt what Plantlife had been doing since our last visit to maintain these rich meadows.
Following the improved drainage it will be interesting to see how these meadows react over the coming years.
RNHS visit to Seaton Meadows on Friday 30th June 2017
Seaton Meadows Site of Special Scientific interest lies under the Harringworth Viaduct on the Rutland boundary, and is a flood meadow rich in wildflowers.
Plantlife, who own and manage the site, have recently noticed a decline in species richness in some areas, and sought advice as to the likely cause. Experts identified two main causes; fertilizer-rich water draining into the site from north of the Barrowden road and silting up of the brook on the southern boundary, impeding rapid drainage of flood water in winter.
In 2016, Plantlife reserve manager, Joe Costley, invited RNHS to help monitor the grassland before remedial dredging of the brook, in order to provide a baseline for future monitoring of the effectiveness of the work.
On 30 June this year, members joined Joe for the second year of monitoring, following clearance of silt in the brook. Joe is an excellent teacher and showed us how to complete specially designed monitoring forms for the different types of grassland on the reserve, using just a few easily identified plants. These included black knapweed, ox-eye daisy, common birds-foot-trefoil, yellow rattle and meadowsweet.
Our teams were quickly able to survey 10 squares each, providing a useful monitoring tool for Plantlife. At least one area proved to be in favourable condition, with all the flood meadow indicator species present.
As well as the profusion of plants, we also saw butterflies, crickets and bumble bees of various species, a skylark, and a real surprise: a marbled white butterfly.
It was a very enjoyable and satisfying visit, and the Society plans to help Plantlife monitor this important site regularly in future.
Report by Jenny Harris