North Meadow, Cricklade

North Meadow, Cricklade (grid reference SU094946) is a hay meadow near the town of Cricklade, in Wiltshire, England. It is 24.6 hectares in size. It is a traditionally managed lowland hay-meadow, or lammas land, and is grazed in common between 12 August and 12 February each year, and cut for hay no earlier than 1 July. This pattern of land use and management has existed for many centuries and has resulted in the species rich grassland flora and fauna present on the site.

Over 250 species of higher plant occur in the meadow, but it is of particular note as it holds by far the largest British population of the snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris). The 500,000 fritillaries which flower each year represent 80% of the British population.[1]

Snake's head fritillary, North Meadow NNR, Cricklade - geograph.org.uk - 418738
A snake's head fritillary in the North Meadow, Cricklade

History

The meadow is situated between two rivers, the Thames and the Churn, and the unique habitat for the fritillary was created by regular winter flooding. Such meadows were once common in Britain, but with the advent of modern farming many were drained and ploughed for arable crops from the 1730s onwards. In the case of North Meadow, it escaped such a fate by virtue of the preservation of the Court Leet, the Saxon system of town governance which made sure the land was held in common. The land is managed by Natural England[2] and is run with the support of the Court Leet. The ancient Hay Lot stones which once marked local farmers' plots can still be seen within the meadow.[3]

The meadow was notified as a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1971. Part of the site has been designated a national nature reserve.[1]

Flora and fauna

The site includes for many types of grasses, such as red fescue (Festuca rubra), perennial rye grass (Lolium perenne), meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis), crested dog's tail (Cynosurus cristatus), yellow oatgrass (Trisetum flavescens), meadow brome (Bromus commutatus), and meadow barley (Hordeum brachyantherum). The meadow is also rich in various herbs including typical hayfield species pepper saxifrage (Silaum silaus), yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor), great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis), black knapweed (Centaurea nigra), adder's tongue (Ophioglossum vulgatum), common meadowrue (Thalictrum flavum), and ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi).[1] Other meadow flowers include for common knapweed (Centaurea nigra), meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris), yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor), cowslip (Primula veris), meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), and ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare).[3]

The meadow is surrounded by rivers, streams and drainage ditches which add to the biological diversity of the site, with many species of bank-side plant present including for slender tufted-sedge (Carex acuta), marsh arrowgrass (Triglochin palustris), and great water-dock (Rumex hydrolapathum), tubular water-dropwort (Oenanthe fistulosa), marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), marsh foxtail (Alopecurus geniculatus), early marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata), and brown sedge (Carex disticha).[1]

As may be expected for such abundant flora, there is also a rich and diverse insect and reptile fauna present on the site. Typical meadow butterflies include for meadow brown (Maniola jurtina), common blue (Polyommatus icarus), small heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), and the marsh fritillary (Eurodryas aurinia). Bordering hedges support gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus), ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus), and speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) butterflies. There are also 14 species of dragonfly recorded including the brown hawker (Aeshna grandis), black-tailer skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) and the ruddy darter (Sympetrum sanguineum). The common frog is also prevalent.[1]

The meadow also supports a large variety of birds, including great tits, blue tits, common chaffinches, linnets and treecreepers within the bordering hedges; whilst grey wagtails, reed buntings, sedge warblers, swallows, sand martins and swifts can be found around the rivers and ditches.[3]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "English Nature citation sheet for the site" (PDF). Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  2. ^ Natural England
  3. ^ a b c "Wiltshire heritage webpage". Retrieved 3 July 2012.

External links

Coordinates: 51°39′00″N 1°51′56″W / 51.65012°N 1.86553°W

Britain in Bloom

RHS Britain in Bloom is the largest horticultural campaign in the United Kingdom. It was first held in 1963, initiated by the British Tourist Board based on the example set by Fleurissement de France (now Conseil national de villes et villages fleuris), which since 1959 has promoted the annual Concours des villes et villages fleuris. It has been organised by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) since 2002.

The competition is entered by the communities of towns, villages and cities. Different categories exist for various sizes of settlements. Groups are assessed for their achievements in three core pillars: Horticultural Excellence; Environmental Responsibility; and Community Participation.

Over 1,600 communities around the UK enter each year, participating in their local region's "in Bloom" campaign. From these regional competitions, roughly 80 communities are selected to enter the national Finals of RHS Britain in Bloom.It is a popular campaign, estimated to involve more than 200,000 volunteers in cleaning up and greening up their local area.Since 2002, the awards have been based on the Royal Horticultural Society's medal standards of Gold, Silver Gilt, Silver and Bronze; the winner is the settlement judged to have most successfully met the rigorous judging criteria. Judging at the regional stage takes place around June/ July; judging for the national stage takes place in August. The results for the UK Finals are announced in September/ October. The competition covers the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Floral displays play an important part in the contest, but the "Bloom" title is now, perhaps, misleading: in recent years the competition has increasingly assessed how all sectors of the local community are managing their local environment.

In 2006, the RHS introduced the Neighbourhood Awards (now the It's Your Neighbourhood campaign), a grassroots sister campaign to Bloom, supporting smaller, volunteer-led community groups focused on improving their immediate environment.

Common land

Common land is land owned collectively by a number of persons, or by one person, but over which other people have certain traditional rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect wood, or to cut turf for fuel.A person who has a right in, or over, common land jointly with another or others is called a commoner.This article deals mainly with common land in Great Britain. Although the extent there is much reduced due to enclosure of common land from the millions of acres that existed until the 17th century, a considerable amount of common land still exists, particularly in upland areas, and there are over 7,000 registered commons in England alone.Common land or former common land is usually referred to as a common; for instance, Clapham Common or Mungrisdale Common.

Hay lot

A Hay Lot is a portion of common land used for haymaking and assigned by lot or allotment. Traditionally a marker, usually of stone, was used in early agriculture to mark the position of an individual hay lot within a hay meadow. The marker stone would typically bear the initials of the lot-holder. Such markers would have been common-place in meadows in Britain, but with the advent of modern farming many hay meadows were ploughed for arable crops, and the hay lots removed. Today, few such examples remain, but some can be seen in the North Meadow at Cricklade.

In modern agriculture a Hay lot is defined as the harvest of hay from a single field undertaken within a 48-hour period. Depending upon the size of the field and the capacity of the harvesting equipment used, the amount of hay collected in this period can vary greatly, reaching up to 200 short tons (180 tonnes).

List of Nature Conservation Review sites

The following is a 'list of British conservation sites listed in Derek Ratcliffe's 1979 book A Nature Conservation Review, the two-volume work which set out to identify the most important places for nature conservation in Great Britain.

The following headings, subheadings, site codes and site names are the same as those used in the original work.

List of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in Wiltshire

The following is a list of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom. In England the body responsible for designating SSSIs is Natural England, which chooses a site because of its fauna, flora, geological or physiographical features. As of 2006, there are 134 sites designated in this Area of Search, of which the vast majority, 108, have been designated due to their biological interest, with just 21 due to their geological interest (and 5 for both).Natural England took over the role of designating and managing SSSIs from English Nature in October 2006 when it was formed from the amalgamation of English Nature, parts of the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service. Natural England, like its predecessor, uses the 1974–1996 county system and as such the same approach is followed here, rather than adopting the current local government or ceremonial county boundaries. The data in the table is taken from English Nature's website in the form of citation sheets for each SSSI.For other counties, see List of SSSIs by Area of Search.

List of national nature reserves in England

This is a list of current national nature reserves in England. Sites formerly notified, such as Braunton Burrows in Devon, are not included.

National nature reserves in England

National nature reserves in England are designated by Natural England as key places for wildlife and natural features in England. They were established to protect the most significant areas of habitat and of geological formations. NNRs are managed on behalf of the nation, many by Natural England themselves, but also by non-governmental organisations, including the members of The Wildlife Trusts partnership, the National Trust, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

There are over 224 NNRs in England covering around 800 square kilometres (310 sq mi), 0.71% England's land area and practically every kind of landscape. Often they contain rare species or nationally important species of plants, insects, butterflies, birds, mammals etc.

Nature reserve

A nature reserve (also known as natural reserve, bioreserve, natural/nature preserve, or natural/nature conserve) is a protected area of importance for flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research. Nature reserves may be designated by government institutions in some countries, or by private landowners, such as charities and research institutions, regardless of nationality. Nature reserves fall into different IUCN categories depending on the level of protection afforded by local laws. Normally it is more strictly protected than a nature park.

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