Oct 302014
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary seen at Silent Valley Reserve 16 June 2014: Jon Dunkelman

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary seen at Silent Valley Reserve 16 June 2014: Jon Dunkelman

Following their enjoyable day in October when owners of Local Wildlife Sites met at Llanishen to share stories and enjoy a fungi walk in New Grove Meadows, GWT are hosting another event on Sunday 30 November in their beautiful Silent Valley Reserve.  Although it’s largely aimed at Local Wildlife Site owners, other members of MMG are welcome to attend, but GWT would appreciate advance notice.

There will be a guided walk looking at some of the land management issues on site.  The event will begin from the car-park at the reserve, Cendl Terrace, Cwm, Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent at 10am and will run till approximately mid-day.

The event is free but numbers are limited; if you would like to attend (or have more details) please contact Andy Karran at GWT by the 31st October 2014 on akarran@gwentwildlife.org or 01600 740600.

Location and reserve information on the GWT website

Oct 192014

Gwent Wildlife TrustGWT have produced a series of useful publications on habitat management, as part of the Local Wildlife Sites in SE Wales project.  These are available to download from the GWT web site as pdf’s (see below) or you can get hold of resilient printed copies at their Local Wildlife Site Owners Days.  There are 14 in total covering a range of habitat issues including managing different types of grassland, hedgerows, marshes, ponds and specific problems such as scrub and bracken control and unwanted invasive species.

Download the toolkits from www.gwentwildlife.org/what-we-do/projects/lws-se-wales-project (scroll down the page to the Downloads section)

Oct 122014

SEWBReC logoSouth East Wales Biodiversity Recorders Centre (SEWBReC) produce the Gwent-Glamorgan Recorders’ Newsletter which usually has items of interest to Meadows Group members.

The autumn issue published in October 2014 (pdf) includes a report from Steph Tyler and Elsa Wood (Monmouthshire’s Botanical Recorders) on their highlights of 2014; information about the Local Records Centre’s Data Access Tool (which is free for anyone to use without registering at www.lrcwalesdat.org and you can easily waste a few hours on it); an article about Mary Gillham, pioneering female scientist who travelled the world in the 1950s, and the project to digitise her drawings and photographs of her beloved wildlife of South Wales; several articles covering some of the more obscure groups of invertebrates, and much more.

You can download back copies of their newsletters from their web site.

Sep 282014

In July this year, three leading wildlife charities: Plantlife, The Wildlife Trusts and The Rare Breeds Survival Trust, held a conference to discuss the need for radical new action to reverse the loss of the UK’s meadow heritage.  Prince Charles attended, as did representatives from Defra, academics and practitioners from conservation, food and farming and rural development.

Well known naturalist Mark Avery (former Conservation Director of the RSPB) produced a report of the meeting which is available to download as a pdf from Plantlife’s web site (link below).  It’s well worth reading (and Monmouthshire Meadows Group gets a mention, as well as the Parish Grasslands Project). 

Reversing the Trend (pdf)

Mark wrote a version of his report on his blog

The organisations involved are now tasked with keeping up the momentum from this initiative.  Here in Monmouthshire and across the river in Gloucestershire we’ve led the way, and around the country other initiatives are springing up.  One of the latest is Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust’s campaign Cut and Chew which “aims to ensure the long-term survival of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire’s permanent grasslands, by promoting good management, restoration and appreciation of them.”   MMG has attended meetings with people from other parts of the country (most recently, Carmarthenshire and Devon) looking to set up meadows groups along similar lines to us.

Mark Avery’s report ends with 10 priorities for action, copied below.  Individuals can do something, but it requires a concerted effort from many different agencies to reverse the trend because, as Mark says, we need to do something urgently or the game is lost.

Mark’s Ten Priority Actions

1. Raise the public profile of the value of meadows so that they and their owners receive greater public support
2. Research the services and benefits of meadows so that the evidence is even more convincing: for example in flood prevention or nutritional value
3. Transfer more meadows into conservation stewardship – by communities, skilled farmers or conservation bodies – and where necessary into conservation ownership
4. Notify all high-quality meadows under existing legislation to protect them and enable public funding and use the planning system better to protect undesignated sites
5. Capture and record meadow history , including losses, to know more about what and why we have and could restore
6. Talk to farmers who own meadows and manage traditional stock to understand their needs and aspirations and to learn and share their knowledge
7. Promote the businesses of meadow-conserving farmers and buy the products they make
8. Increase direct payments to those farmers who protect meadows in the long term
9. Re-create new meadows on former sites the “right way” and where they link with existing meadows and share skills in this specialist undertaking
10. Establish an inventory of meadows as a means of focusing efforts to where quality is poor or to join up sites and to record our successes and failures.

Pentwyn Farm meadow (Keith Moseley)

Pentwyn Farm meadow (Keith Moseley)

Sep 052014

We’re pleased to announce the winners of our photography competition.  We have three age groups and here are the winning pictures from each.  Congratulations to the winners, who will be presented with their prizes at our Autumn Meeting on 8th October in Usk.

Click the images to enlarge them.

Holly's picture of orchids at our Crwys open day in June

Holly’s picture of orchids at our Crwys open day in June

Ten years and under

Holly Ayling

Holly, aged 7, took her picture of orchids at our Meadows Open Day at Crws on 8th June 2014.





Helen’s picture of a Small Copper taken on Abergavenny Castle Meadow

11 to 16 years

Helen Ackerman

Helen’s picture of a Small Copper butterfly on a grass stem was taken in Abergaenny Castle Meadows during a bioblitz on 17th May this year



Jon's picture of Ox-eye Daisies at New Grove meadows

Jon’s picture of Ox-eye Daisies at New Grove meadows


Jon Dunkelman

Jon’s picture of Ox-eye Daisies was taken in June at New Grove Meadows

Aug 152014



Wales Biodiversity Partnership is an umbrella group open to all organisations and individuals who have an interest in biodiversity and ecosystems conservation and enhancement.

This year’s conference will be in Cardiff on Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th September, and it is entitled ‘Nature Recovery Planning in Wales – implementation approach to 2020’
The conference is free and individuals are welcome as well as people representing conservation groups. Booking closes on 3rd September and places are limited.

The Nature Recovery Plan for Wales (aka Biodiversity Strategy) is due to be launched at the conference.

For more information see their conference web site

Learn more about the partnership on their web site www.biodiversitywales.org.uk

Wildflower Seeds

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Jul 242014

PlantWildAt MMG we always advocate leaving your grassland to see what grows naturally, but often it does need a bit of help.  If you are going to plant seeds, please make sure they are of local provenance.  We can provide some Yellow Rattle seeds each year, and we hope to have some seed harvested by Gwent Wildlife Trust at all our stalls through the summer (see our Events page).

If you want to buy seeds that you know are local we suggest PlantWild in Herefordshire:  plantwild.co.uk.  They collect seeds from around this area and will provide local seed for sowing this autumn.  This year they have harvested from Shirenewton and Maryland, including from some MMG members’ land. They also have an MG5 mix from South Herefordshire and an MG4* from Llandrindod as well as a little Welsh upland seed from last year, harvested near Abergavenny.

*MG5 and MG4 are classes of grassland under the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) system

  • MG5 – Unimproved neutral grassland, including traditional hay meadows
  • MG4 – Floodplain meadows.  These would have been found throughout Britain’s river valleys 100 years ago

Birds of New Zealand

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Jul 092014

Click for full size flyer

Not meadows, or about Monmouthshire, but a friend of our group and an event that will either remind people of some wonderful New Zealand holidays or encourage them to go!

Adventures of a Kiwi Birder is an illustrated talk by Brent Stephenson, co-author of Birds of New Zealand: a Photographic Guide, to be held on Monday 4th August at Bridges Community Centre in Monmouth at 7pm.  Tickets are just £4.00 (and that includes tea/coffee).  The event is priced to cover costs – any surplus will be donated to charity.

There’s more information on the flyer.

To book phone David Loughlin on 01600 713396 or email kiwibirdtalk@gmail.com

For more information about Brent see: www.eco-vista.com, www.wrybill-tours.com, b1rder.blogspot.co.nz and his pictures on www.flickr.com/photos/b1rder/8251682550/

Keep Wales Tidy

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Jul 092014

KWT_logo_2014_154Keep Wales Tidy is much more than just a litter picking organisation.  They focus on protecting our environment and preserving the natural landscape, and they support other initiatives, such as the Eco Schools initiative and the Green Flag Awards scheme.  MMG has received fantastic support from them too.

This year they are one of the sponsors of the World Alternative Games in Llanwrtyd Wells (8th – 25th August) and they are holding their own event in these games, the Tidy Triathlon, on 22nd August.  You can enter your own team (3-5 members) or just go and watch – details here.

In September they are organising a week- long, nationwide clean-up of littered black spots in Tidy Wales Week, 15 – 21 September.   Last year over 2,000 people joined in, resulting over a thousand of bags of litter being recovered by volunteers.  This year they are encouraging groups – neighbours, schools, local businesses – to sign up and join in.  Register on by emailing tww@keepwalestidy.org or see their web site for information www.keepwalestidy.org