Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Why you should take the time to explore our beautiful nearby meadows

Written by The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnerships Farming and Wildlife Officer Sarah Robinson.

In my role as the Farming and Wildlife Officer, I look after the Wild about Pendle project, which aims to reconnect people with nature and wildlife. Working with local farmers and volunteers we survey, restore and manage important habitats for wildlife across the Pendle Hill area, including species rich grassland and moorland. The Pendle Meadow Project was born as a result of working from home last spring during lock-down. Like the rest of the country, the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership team was confined to home from March last year. Despite the obvious worry about the pandemic, this allowed time to develop new projects, and for me, this new project has been the Pendle Meadows Project.


Image of Bell Sykes Coronation Meadows in Slaidburn

Having spent time pouring over maps, making use of the knowledge I have of farms and other grassland sites in the project area and talking with members of the Pendle Hill Farmer Network I facilitate, I came up with a short list of thirteen meadows which I was interested in exploring further. Once I had spoken to all the owners and we were allowed to resume our outdoor work in June last year, I was able to get the project started. The sites range from large agricultural meadows the size of seven football pitches down to the smallest, which is 3 metres square.

I surveyed all the sites for their traditional grasses and wildflowers and then over the course of August and September last year, added in a range of additional species with seed collected from existing meadows across the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. After waiting almost a year, I have just started to go back and resurvey the meadows, and it is fantastic to see the results. Yellow rattle, meadow foxtail and eyebright can be found flowering just the first year after seeding, whilst others such as red clover, knapweed, great burnet and rough hawkbit will take longer to establish.


Image taken by Sarah whilst carrying out her wild flower surveys 

As well as the additional wildflowers, the meadows are home to a wide variety of butterflies, moths, bees, grasshoppers and other insects, as well as small mammals such as bank voles. They are used as feeding sites by bats and summer visitors such as swifts and swallows. Meadows are a really important part our local biodiversity and support a large web of life, as well as being incredibly beautiful. Many of the sites in this project have footpaths running through them or are areas open to the public, and if you have a chance, now is a great time to visit before the hay is cut, take a look at Clarion House on Jinny Lane or Spring Wood in Whalley.

You can find more details on our website https://www.pendlehillproject.com/project/wild

Monday, August 9, 2021

Wildlife count a wonderful way to connect with nature


Written by Nichola Gill - Business Support Officer for the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership

For the past few weeks I have helped organise a series of events called The Spring Wood Big Wildlife Count, which is taking place over the course of the summer. The first in the series, Wild Flowers and Bees, was held on Saturday 5th June at Spring Wood, Whalley.

Meadows and Bees Survey at Spring Wood

Having only recently joined the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership team in February, I haven't had the opportunity to work from an office, meet with people face to face, or get as involved with projects as I perhaps could have done pre-covid. Given the restrictions, the majority of my work has been carried out at home to date. I've also joined over halfway through a well established project, as I am covering maternity leave until December, so it's obviously been a strange start to my new job. Now that we are finally able to get projects and activities up and running again, it was great to get outside and meet people in person at Spring Wood. This being said, I'm pretty sure my colleagues felt the same excitement that I did, as they have spent the last year only engaging with audiences online.

Alongside my colleagues Carol, Sarah and Alison, we joined 10 keen nature recorders, who helped us to identify and record the species living within this beautiful site. Some people used the iNaturalist app, which we are using as a database to collect our findings, whilst others used pen and paper. Common spotted orchid, red campion, germander speedwell, common mouse ear, cuckooflower and ragged robin were amongst some of the wild flowers logged. It was a fantastic event, and we had people of all ages and expertise, some being bee and wild flower experts, and others having no experience at all. The size of the meadow meant we could all safely socially distance and enjoy spending time with each other in nature.


Bumblebee on Red Campion

We have since held two more events, recording minibeasts on the 30th June, and then tree species on the 8th July. Spring Wood now has over 661 separate observations on the iNaturalist app, and we are hoping to build on this again, with two more events in the pipeline – looking at bats and fungi (dates to be confirmed).

In the meantime, why not download the iNaturalist app and record your findings at your own leisure, you could even take a trip to Spring Wood and help us build on our Big Wildlife Count.

Pease visit our website http://www.pendlehillproject.com/spring-wood-big-wildlife-count for more details, including a guide on how to use iNaturalist.

Screenshot of our findings on the iNaturalist App