Boughton Church Window Gary Trouton

Boughton Fen

May 2016

Wildlife, wildfowers and our own local environment

Many people take the view that this fenland part of Norfolk is flat and boring, and intensively farmed, without much in the way of wildlife or plants. However, a closer look often reveals much more than is first perceived.

Many farms now have adopted conservation headlands, which have shown a marked increase in bird species and other wildlife. The replanting of hedges, many of which were ripped out in the prairie farming approach of the 60’s and 70’s have furthered the diversity of animals and birds all over the country, and some species which were endangered, almost to the point of dying out, are recovering in numbers. Surely, no one can have missed the variety of raptors in the area, which were not present here ten years ago Much of this has been achieved through Stewardship schemes, and a different attitude to the land.

Our own Boughton Fen has benefited from a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme. Away from the main area of reed fen, some of this has been mown, to replicate the effect of grazing by livestock. Although the area may look as though it is all the same to some, a survey was carried out last year on an area of 3900 square metres, close to the reed bed, and this revealed 42 different types of flora in this area alone.

One of the best examples of plant species thriving in a natural environment is Hannah’s Meadow, in Northumberland, now managed by Durham Wildlife Trust and made famous by the TV series Too Long a Winter. The meadows are considered to be some of the least improved and most species rich in upland Durham and as such have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The grass sward is dominated by Meadow Fox-tail, Sweet vernal-grass and Crested Dog’s-tail with an abundance of wild flowers, including Ragged-Robin ,Wood Crane’s-bill, Marsh-marigold, Yellow-rattle, Adders-tongue fern and Globe-flower. The pasture has a more acidic character with rushes and sedges dominating and this supports breeding birds such as Lapwing, Skylark, Redshank, Curlew and Meadow Pipit.

Locally, Norfolk Wildlife Trust is promoting a scheme called Norfolk County Wildlife Action which aims to encourage people to record the wildlife they see in churchyards and on County Wildlife Sites. This project is an opportunity for people to develop skills in wildlife recording, learn more about the wildlife associated with churchyards and some of Norfolk’s County Wildlife Sites and to make a real difference to wildlife conservation through helping to survey and monitor these important wildlife sites. Nearly half of Norfolk’s parish churches are registered under the scheme, which aims to help churches manage their churchyards to protect the plant species of particular interest while observing the main requirements of the church. The neighbouring church at Wretton is already a first year survey site, and it would be nice to think that something similar could be achieved here in Boughton.

Sue Pogmore

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