A record number of a rare flower was counted in one of Tamworth’s scenic nature reserves this spring after years of careful management by volunteers, conservationists – and cows!
Volunteers counted 746 rare Snakehead Fritillary plants established in the Broad Meadow Local Nature Reserve (near the River Tame off Lichfield Road). This is an increase from last year’s 502 and more than the record 601 previously held in 1990.
Broad Meadow sits on a small island between the two channels of the Tame River and is recognized as a Biologically Significant Site because it is a prime example of lowland prairie – a flood prairie habitat that is becoming increasingly scarce. in Staffordshire and across the UK. It is also one of only two sites in the county where the Snake-headed Fritillary grows wild.
The 61-acre reserve is managed and managed under the Wild About Tamworth Project, a partnership between the Tamworth Borough Council and the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. The project aims to make the site more accessible to people by opening it up and more rewarding for wildlife by allowing fritillaries to spread.
The superb Fritillaries are currently in bloom and in order to encourage the Fritillary population it is important that soil conditions are maintained and competing species are removed. The most efficient way to do this is by using cattle grazing and the Broad Meadow herd can be seen grazing on the site during the summer. The Hereford and Angus cattle breeds are chosen to live in the meadow because of their docile nature.
Claire Williams, Wild About Tamworth officer, said: “Due to the careful management of Broad Meadow to maintain the lowland prairie, wild growing Snakehead Fritillaries have come out in record numbers.
“It takes three years for the seeds to turn into a bulb and up to eight years for them to produce a flower, so long-term management is essential. Grazing the site with cattle from late spring through mid-winter helps keep larger shrubs at bay to allow low vegetation to thrive.
“A big thank you also must go to the Broad Meadow volunteer group for observing, counting and recording these rare plants for us.”
Volunteers took this year’s fritillary count on April 7 in a socially distant group of six.
For volunteers, this year’s record number also looks like a fitting tribute to the late environmentalist Maurice Arnold, who died this year at the age of 95.
A founding member of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, it is thanks to Mauritius that local records such as the number of heads of fritillary snakes have been available since 1958. Along with his late brother George, Maurice played a decisive role in the protection of wildlife and wildlife. Tamworth wild places. He was heavily involved in the Wild About Tamworth project.
The Snakehead Fritillary is a unique plant with purple, pink or even white checkered bell-shaped flowers bent over thin stems. It has narrow gray-green leaves that appear at the base of the plant and sometimes up to the stem. They are now only found in a handful of flood meadows in southern and central England.
Anyone wishing more information or getting involved as a volunteer should contact Claire Williams, Manager of Wild About Tamworth on 07494 852399, email [email protected] or visit www.tamworth. gov.uk/wild-about -tamworth.