Friday 4th September 2015
The play area at the top of Admirals Way, Hethersett, located within the Church Fields housing estate, is another of our ’’visit once a year sites’’. It is a good sized grass area with children’s play area, with a fenced off wild life area in one corner, which was to be the focus of our attention today.
We usually trim this area earlier in the year, but because of other commitments, our visit is later than normal.
There was a good turnout of volunteers today, which made the work load lighter and we got through the task in double quick time.
Hedge trimming, grass and nettle cutting and tree pruning were the order of the day. First off the hedge (which had been planted behind the fenced off area) was given a good haircut, but next year this may have to be ‘’layed’’ again to help thicken up the foliage. As for the grass, this had been left a little too long since the last cut, so it was a little matted and tufted, which made the work with the brush cutters a bit more arduous. Several people got stuck into the raking and forking the grass cuttings, soon the ground work was done to give the wild flowers a first rate start for next spring.
Several of the smaller trees in the compound had work done on them to ‘’lift their canopies’’ (a process of trimming the lower branches to encourage growth in the canopies) which will increase the light under the tree; this in turn will increase more flower growth.
All the grass and tree prunings were piled in a couple of places, which will rot down; providing shelter for small mammals and insects for over wintering and nesting sites.
Again, a big problem for this and many other sites, was the problem of people dumping their rubbish. We found a bicycle, some old chairs, an electronic key board and a whole assortment of household and other junk, which had been dumped.
One feature of this site, is a fairly deep pond, which is almost dry, surrounded by mature oak trees the pond still provides a valuable refuge for wildlife. Dead logs in the water provide important habitat for insects and an egg laying site for dragonflies, some aquatic beetle feed on decaying wood, caddis fly larvae use leaves and tree bark to build their cases, while submerged tree roots provide habitat for crawling water beetles and may fly larva. The mud in and around the pond provides an important habitat, for larvae of a wide variety of insects.
I suspect that the pond was originally a gravel or marl pit, used by the farmer or the villagers of Hethersett, which in the past may have been fed by water seeping from the surrounding ground. There does not appear to be a natural spring feeding the pond, after a relatively dry year the water level is very low. A wet winter may fill the pond.
Written by Alan Rae, Norwich Fringe Project Volunteer