These Colt’s-foot ( Tussilago farfara) were photographed at Barnwell West reserve. A beautiful reminder that we’ve done it! Spring is here! This plant’s habit of flowering before the leaves appear has given it the folk-name of ‘Son-before-father’. It can be found on waste land or dry banks with loose soil. It strongly prefers clay.
Other pleasing signs have been the Butterbur flowers emerging at Paradise nature reserve, another plant which flowers before the leaves show. Also spotting the first Bumble bees emerging and Brimstone butterflies at Bramblefields reserve. Hazel catkins with the tiny, red female flowers next to them and Pussy willow buds appearing at Logan’s Meadow have all been welcome sights as well.
Before the snow the Saturday volunteers enjoyed a beautiful sunny day at Logan’s meadow last weekend. The laid front hedge was given a tidy up and gaps were filled with tree whips of native species. Due to some of the larger trees falling in the wind and others being pollarded the central space in the reserve became a viable area to plant some more trees. New trees will give a more varied structure to the woodland and therefore increase the available habitats for species. Osiers were the chosen species to plant here. This beautiful willow will hopefully thrive in this wet woodland and provide a great source of early nectar for many foraging bees and pollinators come the spring.
Work started on the new pond this week at Bramblefields nature reserve in Chesterton. This work has been funded through the Chesterton sidings Train station development.
The pond has been situated next to the original pond at the reserve which is already home to a healthy newt and dragonfly population. The new larger pond has been designed with these species in mind and it is hoped that they will quickly populate this pond too.
These changes are part of a wider vision for the reserve which takes its inspiration from the lost brownfield site that the new station was built on. Brownfield sites have become some of the most species rich habitats in the UK, particularly for invertebrates and amphibians. The varied topography, low nutrient soils and plenty of opportunities for basking are some of the features that make Brownfield sites so successful in supporting and sheltering species. Therefore to include some of these components in the changes to Bramblefields seemed logical and essential. It will be exciting to see how many new species will be attracted to the site as the project unfolds and develops.
It was great to have access at the weekend to the East Cambridge Lakes, sometimes known locally as The Tins or Romsey lakes.
The public are not normally allowed in to the lakes as it is strictly reserved for Anglers only. However a work party of volunteers were allowed in to carry out some targeted conservation work for the day. The aim was to begin clearing sections of scrub with the view to open up areas attractive to solitary bees and wasps. The conditions around the Lakes are particularly suited to these kind of invertebrates.
Floating Pennywort is an invasive aquatic plant which has become a highly problematic on our waterways. Originally from South America Floating Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) seems very at home in UK waters, it’s rapid growth rate can quickly clog up rivers and destroy habitats. In recent years the river Cam has been badly hit, within 5 years the weed has spread at an alarming speed, from Grantchester all the way out to the Denver Sluice on the Great Ouse river.
For these reasons many people have been motivated to help with the removal of the weed in an attempt to curb it’s growth. Motivation was high when the LNR volunteers and representative from the Cam Valley forum gathered to clear the Pennywort from where it was gathering on the banks of Paradise Nature reserve. Motivation had to be high because the sub-zero temperatures would probably have deterred more fainthearted environmentalists. Great progress was made pulling the weed out of the water and also cutting back over hanging branches which the Pennywort plant uses to help anchor itself along the river. Important and valuable work which unfortunately will have to repeated come the Spring and Summer. A war is being waged!