Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve Botanical Monitoring 2010

We carried out some botanical monitoring this year to assess the effect of grazing within Ecclesbourne Meadow (EG06), Barn Pond Field (GP01) and GP02, as well as the current status of the arable margins seeded a couple of years ago around A03 and A04.

Arable Margins, Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve

It’s important to note that Ecclesbourne Meadow, Barn Pond Field and GP02 make up grazing block A according to our new grazing regime, and together make up the best area of semi-natural grassland within the nature reserve.

To view the collated data visit this page.

Summary of results:
Ecclesbourne Meadow (EG06)
The survey area in EG06 contained a high frequency of grasses, bird’s-foot trefoil, grass vetchling, smooth tare and bramble.

All grass species were identified but we have lumped grass species together for the sake of simplicity, and it’s the flowering plant frequency we are most interested in.

Barn Pond Field (GP01)
The survey area in GP01 contained a high frequency of grasses, creeping buttercup, white clover, common sorrel, meadow vetchling and grass vetchling. Also legume seedlings were also of high frequncy within the survey area.

The field was being grazed by cattle at the time the survey was taking place, so the high frequency of seedlings could be a result of bare ground being created by the grazing activities of the cattle allowing legume seedlings to find space to grow. Cattle pull up grass to feed and tend to create more small patches of space for flowering plants to seed, than sheep which nibble grass leaving the ground layer intact with less space for germinating plants.

GP02
The survey area in GP02 contained a high frequency of grasses, white clover and black knapweed. This field had been grazed for a few weeks prior to the survey and has not had green hay spread to increase botanical diversity. It is very clear how beneficial spreading green hay is to speeding up the process of developing botanical diversity as GP01 is far superior to GP02.

Despite the fact the field had been well grazed and very little flowering plants were flowering the survey still produced a good representation of the species diversity and frequncy of species within the field.

A03
The arable margins around A03 contained a high frequency of grasses, black knapweed, broad-leaved dock, meadow vetchling, and red clover.

A04
The arable margins around A04 contained a high frequency of grasses, white clover, black knapweed, meadow vetchling and red clover.

The arable margins were seeded with black knapweed, red clover, meadow vetchling and other vetches so it’s good to see that even after a couple of years the arable margins are developing as planned.

So overall our planned management and grazing has produced exactly the result we desired with legume rich grassland and margins providing a good nectar and pollen resource for bumblebees and long-horned bees. An unexpected result not picked up in the surveys but noticed during the bumblebee event was the spreading of dyer’s greenweed from Ecclesbourne Meadow into GP01.

It is also clear that the spreading of green hay is very successful on these fields so this will be continued on the other fields we are reverting back to semi-natural grassland. A lot of work is also still needed to reduce bramble in Ecclesbourne Meadow, but as bramble encroachment has been left unchecked for many years it will take a long time to reduce this problem.

A big thank you to Jacqueline Rose for carrying out the botanical surveys.

Survey Methods:
A 10mx10m survey area was identified by the surveyor (Jacqueline Rose) within EG06, GP01 and GP02. The survey area identified had to be a typical example of the whole field so any wetter patches, spring, hollows etc. were avoided. It also had to be relocated in the future so one corner of the survey area would be a fence post and the survey area marked out 10m north and east/west from the fence post. Ten radndomly postioned qudrats were then placed using computer cretaed rando co-ordcates.

Along the arable margins ten randomly placed qudrats were recorded in a linear procession from a starting point. Again the ramdom locations (in meteres from the starting point) were compter genreated.

Every species contained within the quadrat was identified. Each quadrt is made up of 100 squares so the number of squares each species appeared in gave a % frequency count for each species appearing within the qudrat. The 10 frequcncy scores for each qudrat was then averaged to give a frequncy average for each species within the survey area. This calculation can skew the results towards species occuring in a dense clump, so the frequency average is multiplied by the number of quadrats recorded within the survey area to give a better indication of the frequency percentage of species that occur throughout the survey area which is what we are interested in as these species characterise the sward.

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One response to “Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve Botanical Monitoring 2010

  1. I was really delighted to see the improvement in the floral quality of GP02 this year.

    Congratulations to Jacqueline for this valuable, thorough and no-doubt arduous research.

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