Welcome

Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
advice
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Floodplain meadows are the new amenity

Our local playing fields are, ecologically speaking, not much more than a green desert - heavily 'improved' amenity grassland with barely a 'weed' in sight. Or at least they were until last winter's ongoing storms caused a local river to burst its banks.

February 2014 - playing fields underwater.
The fields are part of a floodplain and are below the level of the surrounding river channels, some of which have been built up and were used as canals decades ago. The floods seem to have surprised a lot of people, though I'm never really sure why the term 'floodplain' isn't seen as self-explanatory. Anyhow, not all the local residents minded...

A colony of black-headed gulls soon moved in to use the unplanned wetland - other species such as mute swans were also regularly seen.
The fields are also a popular dog-walking location - the shallow 'lagoon' soon became a well-used destination for humans-and-canines as well as avians.
The water persisted for some months but of course dried up when warm weather came. After a hot summer, the ground flora was looking very different to the near-monoculture present only a year ago.

Tall herbs such as fleabanes competing with the grasses.
Meadow plants such as butterbur are already abundant.
Now, I appreciate that leisure is a valid use for playing fields, but this wetted area covers a minority of the total area and the site's use for football and rugby continues unaffected. The newly floral patch is not only popular with invertebrates, but also with walkers (with or without dogs) as a path has been mown around the edge. I hope that it will be left to develop as a 'wild' patch rather than being mown back to amenity grassland status as the leisure-wildlife balance seems excellent currently, but time will tell.