Wivey Grows is officially launched!

An introduction to Langley Moor aka “Julian’s field”

29 February 24 - by Paul Davey

The field is at the end of Cuthroat Lane, through the kissing gate then turn left over the little bridge. Julian and Barbara Mellor bought this 10 acre field in 2019. It had been farmed as sheep pasture for many years and the original vision was to cover most of it with trees but then they decided to help it to regenerate naturally. 1000 trees were planted in 2021 and the hedges on the hill were reinstated according to 19th century maps. A neighbouring farmer takes a yearly hay cut for beef cattle. A footpath runs through the middle of the field and gradually dog walkers have started using the whole site.

Being a wetland, it is naturally good at carbon sequestration, and by leaving it to regenerate naturally many plant species have appeared such as the Cuckoo Flower which provides food for the orange tip butterfly. Whilst planting trees is beneficial, a scrubby phase with dense cover from thorns, spindle, hawthorne, hazel etc also helps an array of species.

A leaky dam was created in the stream, mimicking what beavers do naturally to hold water back creating a pool. This also cleans the water and catches sediment. The wet, boggy marsh has lots of discrete habitats to encourage invertebrates which in turn become food for other wildlife. The impact was almost instant. Dragon and damsel flies moved in, and in time this might encourage birds such as the Hobby to feed here as they have been seen nearby.

A “scrape” can be made which mimics an uprooted tree, creating a pond. The plants then move in and it silts up and then another scrape can be created. This is also a good habitat for invertebrates and in the future wading birds such as redshank or sand piper might arrive. A common lizard was even found inside one of the tree tubes.

Sarah Butcher, a local bat expert, was very impressed by the diversity of bats present. There are only 17 species of breeding bats in the UK and 8 were recorded in this one tiny area which shows it is a good foraging area for them.

67 different bird species were identified on the Moor by the Wivey Birding group this year and this will gradually increase. Within a 5 mile radius of Wivey 105 species have been identified this year, and the highest figure for any year was 128. This doesn’t increase much over a 10 miles radius. Siskin have been seen flying over and robins sing all year round as they are having to continually fight for their territory with the arrival of continental robins. The UK’s smallest bird, the Firecrest, has also been recorded, plus the Sedge Warbler. A kestrel has been seen hovering over the field above the Moor which is good news since its species has declined by half since the 1970’s. Snipe have also been seen flying around.

Another good birding area is around Washbattle Mill where dippers, kingfishers, marsh tits and spotted flycatchers have been seen. Another siting of the spotted flycatcher has been in Jews Lane which is good news as they are in serious decline

Next season some baseline surveys of reptiles will be undertaken, plus print tunnels for mammals, potentially dormice. The work goes on!