As the meadows settle into autumn after being cut for hay, a little further work is required from Herefordshire Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers to mow around the ponds where the tractors cannot reach so you may see us out in action.
We were thrilled to see one curlew chick fledge successfully from Lower Lugg meadow this year. While a small number of curlews continue to nest here annually, it has been several years since a chick made it this far. It is wonderful that despite the pressures of the modern world, this population holds on here on the edge of the city, especially as the curlew is one of our most rapidly declining breeding bird species nationally showing a 46% decline across the UK from 1994-2010*. (*British Trust for Ornithology). Because of this iconic bird, public access has been restricted to the Lower Lugg Meadow and Hampton Meadow during their breeding season for some years and these restrictions have now been extended to 2026.
In mid-August, trainees Kath Beasley and Sarah King conducted a bat survey at Lugg Meadow and recorded 57 fly-bys of Daubenton’s bats on – a great result considering they had to call the survey off near the end because of bad weather! To record the bats, they walked a 1km transect of the meadow, stopping for four minutes at ten points and recording any calls of a Daubenton’s bat using a bat detector.
In September, a grassland restoration project: the Meadow Makers project, in partnership with Herefordshire Meadows, begins at Lugg Mills, an eight-acre island, formed by the confluence of the Lugg and Little Lugg at the north end of Upper Lugg Meadow. This is to increase the number of species of wildflower and grasses which, in turn, will benefit pollinating insects such as bumblebees and butterflies as well as all manner of other invertebrates and small mammals. In preparation for this, we have been conducting bumblebee and plant surveys at the reserve so that we can compare data once the work is completed and monitor the success of the project. This autumn, we will be planting small ‘plug plants’ of wildflower species and spreading wildflower seed once the sheep that have grazed there have been moved on to another site.