Friday, 21 April 2017

Snakeshead Fritillaries at North Meadow Cricklade



Snakeshead Fritillaries at North Meadow NNR, Cricklade.
Fritillaria Meleagris at North Meadow NNR, Cricklade.
The stunning annual display of Fritillaria Meleagris at North Meadow NNR is at its peak. It seems like you can walk forever around the meadow with the purple haze spreading across the horizon. We are so lucky to have the meadow here – one of the finest examples of a lowland hay meadow in Europe, holding the largest natural population of snakeshead fritillaries in the UK. The Meadow is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is also protected as a Special Area of Conservation. It has been managed by the Cricklade Manorial Court as Lammas Land for hundreds of years and is now under Environmental Stewardship Scheme. 
Snakeshead Fritillaries at North Meadow NNR, Cricklade.
Snakeshead Fritillaries at North Meadow NNR, Cricklade.

Lammas tenure is a fascinating part of our history. The landowner – usually the Lord of the Manor – divides the land into “lots” and the hay rights are sold to local farmers who harvest the hay in their allotment. After the harvest the meadow then becomes common pasture and certain commoners are entitled to graze the entire meadow.

At our own North Meadow some of the original boundary stones for the lots are still visible.
Boundary Stone at North Meadow NNR, Cricklade.
Boundary Stone at North Meadow, Cricklade.

Learnings:

  • Lammas day is 12th August when commoner grazing rights begin.
  • Grazing ceases at around Candlemas, at the beginning of February, when the meadow is laid up for hay.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Chickens Out!



HenSafe chickens

Yesterday the avian flu restrictions ended. Thank goodness. Time to take down all the netting and infrastructure that has been prison for our HenSafe chickens so they can take their first steps outside into fresh grass. Beginning to think this could be an annual event.