Bowthorpe Southern Park – Repairing Fences & Cutting Back Bramble

Friday 28th April 2017

Today we met at the small car park for ‘Bowthorpe Southern Park’ (off Tollgate Way) for our days volunteering work, which involved repairing fences and cutting back invasive brambles. Invasive in that they were growing in a place where they were not welcome. Three years ago we planted a wide mixed hedge in an enclosed space.  Most of the hedging plants are getting on nicely (although some have not survived) but the very vigorous bramble plants were choking the immature hedge. In this situation, if intervention were not employed, the brambles would have completely enveloped the hedge and most of the new plants would have been severely stunted or they would not survive.

The intervention plan is to keep the brambles under control until the hedge plants grow and reduce the light reaching the ground. This will greatly restrict the bramble growth, allowing the hedge to thrive and provide a great space for birds, butterflies and insects to flourish. ‘Norwich Fringe Project’ took over the management of this site about six years ago and is one of a string of sites we manage in the Yare Valley (as Chris Stebbing wrote about in his blog ‘Earlham Marsh – Fencing Pollarded Willows’) and in that time I have noticed a considerable improvement on this site.

Some of the typical wildlife (Heron and Little Egret) and scenery that can be seen at Bowthorpe Southern Park.

As a water meadow the ground is a lot more stable than the marsh land further down river and has been used for grazing horses. Over time too many horses have over grazed the grass, so last year ‘Norwich City Council,’ who own the site, took steps to limit the number of horses on site. This spring the grass seems to have recovered and looks in better condition as a result of reduced grazing. Also the number of birds seen on site today was quite impressive and included, Long-tail Tits, Blue Tits, Blackbirds, Greylag Geese, a Grey Heron,a  Little Egret, Mallards, a Cormorant and overhead a couple of Buzzards. I am sure that there were many other species to be seen but those were the ones seen when we had time to lift our heads from our toil!!

One team re-tensioning the barb wire fencing and the other team clearing the brambles from the young trees using brushcutters.

We had split into two working parties, one to do the bramble cutting and the second to do fencing repair and maintenance.  Over time the fencing loses its tension and has to be tightened. Apart from the perimeter fence most of the rest of the fencing is surrounding newly planted trees and is there to stop the horses eating the new leaves and growth of the young trees. A lot of this fencing is close to the river bank where the ground is softer and the posts get knocked and pushed by the horses which causes the wire fence to lose its tension. So the second group busied themselves re-tensioning the wire fence, which if not done with care can cause other problems.  If the wire is over tightened it can pull over corner posts, which then involves more work to make sure that the posts stay in an up-right position.

So, jobs well done and next week we do something different at a different site, installing kissing gates.  It’s all go with ‘Norwich Fringe Project’.