Surprises At The Mars Site

30DAYSWILD_ID3 black

Stepping through the gateway to the site owned by the Mars Food UK company in King’s Lynn this morning it was hard to believe we’d ever worked on it in the winter. For the brambles had spread upwards and outwards and reclaimed their old territory, as had nettles and thistles.

Some of the brambles which have regrown.
Some of the brambles which have regrown.

Gaywood Valley Conservation Group had made four visits, each three hours long, to the four to five acre site in January and February chopping back and pulling out brambles by the ton! Clearly they are incredibly resilient!

We worked hard to clear the site in the winter.
We worked hard to clear the site in the winter.

This morning, I went with four other members of the Group to see what flora and fauna were establishing themselves on site and what effect our earlier efforts had had.

We did manage to compile quite a long list of plants and our botanist expert leader said she was quite surprised and didn’t think we would find as much as we did. However, we had to agree, the area was dominated by the brambles, nettles and thistles and that was affecting diversity.

Wild privet
Wild privet
Pretty dog rose among nettles and thistles.
Pretty dog rose among nettles and thistles.

Apart from plants, highlights of our outing were hearing blackcaps singing – at one point there were two competing against each other. And I realised I am now getting the hang of their song! Hurray! We frequently heard wrens singing as well as chaffinches and chiff chaffs. In fact, birds are clearly making good use of the place as there was a lot of birdsong and calling. At the end of our visit, we saw a party of long-tailed tits, some of which were juveniles. Several types of bee were enjoying the bramble flowers.

I was pleasantly surprised, also to see a nice fresh looking ringlet butterfly in some grass. We found three damselflies, one of which we’re fairly certain was a male banded demoiselle.

A ringlet butterfly
A ringlet butterfly
Red tailed bee on brambles.
Red tailed bee on brambles.

Among the plants we discovered were charlock, wild hop, dog rose, ground-ivy, various speedwells, swine cress and scarlet pimpernel. Trees and bushes included wych elm, sycamore, elder, hawthorn, privet and apple. There were even a few fungi.

Unfortunately, we also came across an area of notorious Japanese knotweed and also some hemlock plants, which are highly poisonous. Hemlock is also to be found along the pathway leading to the site. The land is close to a railway line – perhaps the knotweed was dispersed via that.

Japanese knotweed is highly invasive.
Japanese knotweed is highly invasive.

Back in February, some of us wondered if we’d removed too much bramble, due to birds nesting needs and invertebrates making their homes, but today we had a clear example of how easily they can come back! I suppose all the rain we’ve had and the mild temperatures have helped. Anyway, it proved to be a rewarding and interesting morning.

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