Narroways Volunteer Days for 2017

Just a quick note to let you all know that we have now set the dates for the volunteer days for 2017. They are: Saturday 25 February 2017, Saturday 25 March 2017, Saturday 29 April 2017, Saturday 3 June 2017, Saturday 8 July 2017, Saturday 12 August 2017, Saturday 2 September 2017, Saturday 7 October 2017, Saturday 11 November 2017, Saturday 9 December 2017.

As in previous years, meet on the top of Narroways Hill by the bench at 10:30 am. See you there, repeatedly I hope!

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Rarer butterflies of Narroways and Ashley Vale

There have been 24 species of butterflies recorded in Narroways/Ashley Vale in the past 20 or 30 years. This is a an impressive count for an urban site and considering there are only 70 resident and migrant butterfly species in the UK, some of which are very rare.

We have records going back 30 years but more systematic records of local butterflies extend back to 2002. 18 species of butterflies can be regarded as common in that they are recorded most years. These are Comma, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone, Large White, Orange Tip, Small White, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Speckled Wood, Common Blue, Holly Blue, Large Skipper and Small Skipper. The Green-Veined White, although under-recorded because of confusion with the other white butterfly species, is also likely present most years.

This leaves 6 species that can be regarded as Narroways/Ashley Vale’s rarer species- two migrants- Painted Lady and Clouded Yellow and 4 resident- Small Heath, Brown Argus, Small Copper and Essex Skipper.

Painted Lady

This butterfly is an immigrant from North Africa, absent locally most years but occasionally occurs in large numbers. Dozens were seen flying quickly northwards on a calm sunny day in May 2009. Other years one or two have been seen between May and October. Painted Lady butterflies tend to favour dry, open areas.

Clouded Yellow

This other migrant butterfly is more often seen on chalk downlands close to the south coast in late summer. There is just one local record- an individual seen by Des in Narroways Cutting on a sunny day in September 2014.

Small Heath

Although Narroways would seem to have suitable habitat for this species the most recent records date back to the mid 1990s. Rupert Higgins described Small Heath in 1995 as being ‘fairly common in the cutting and on the hill’. They prefer dry, well-drained situations and finer grasses such as Fescues and appear to be declining.

Brown Argus

The Brown Argus is a special butterfly to see locally. There have been just two sightings, by Harry, on Bird’s Foot Trefoil in Narroways Cutting in August 2003 and on tall grass in the Church Field near the lane in 2011, also in August. They need to be studied carefully so as not to confuse them with female Common Blue butterflies.

Small Copper

This is another attractive, locally rarely seen butterfly typical of unimproved grasslands. There have been 7 local sightings of individuals between July and October over recent years. One was seen on Ragwort in the Church Field on a warm sunny day in August 2009. They have also been seen in Narroways Cutting, near the railway line and on brambles by local footpaths. The most recent sighting was in 2017 on Ashley Hill allotments. Small Copper is associated with warm and dry unimproved grasslands.

Essex Skipper

The Essex Skipper needs very close study to tell it apart from the very similar Small Skipper. It is probably under reported locally. The main identifier is that it has glossy black tips to its antennae compared to the Small Skipper’s dull brown or orange tips. The first recorded local sighting was in July 2009 when 3 were seen, and photographed, by Des in Narroways Cutting. They have also been seen in the Church Field, and on flowering lavender in Lynmouth Road allotments. All sightings were in July.

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Narroways Millennium Green Ecological Management Statement 2016-2018

Narroways haycut

This statement informs the way we manage the site.

Background and Status

Narroways Millennium Green LNR covers approximately 2.5 hectares and is situated in the Northeast part of Bristol, to the west of the M32, in St Werburghs. The site consists of mixed habitat of grassland, scrub, hedgerows and broad leaved woodland. Some of this grassland is unimproved (low nutrient) with good species diversity and includes admixtures of both calcareous (lime loving) and more prevalent neutral grassland. There is a landscaped garden, which possesses a small pond. The site is owned by Bristol City Council.

Statement of Intent

Care of the site will aim –

  • To maintain and enhance unimproved meadows by appropriate management by annual hay cutting in July or August with all arisings being removed and put into scrub areas to provide different habitat (especially for hedgehogs and other mammals). An early cut in early April may also increase competition from desirable herbs over more competitive grasses.
  • To reduce and control scrub encroachment onto meadows: brash piles may be created in scrub woodland surrounding meadows.
  • To thin areas of scrub periodically and allow to regenerate, to create diversity of age and structure: brash and log piles can be provided in woodland for greater habitat diversity.
  • To minimise colonisation by non-native trees in older woodland areas by thinning and pruning
  • To install appropriately placed bird and bat boxes to enhance wildlife value
  • To maintain principle paths on the site and the fence surrounding the site, where this fence is the responsibility of NMGT.
  • To clear litter from the site and to tackle the issue of dog mess left by dog owners

Species of Note Recorded

Birds; Recent (2004) surveys have revealed 16 species, including the BAP species: House Sparrow and Bullfinch. (more recent records include Waxwing, Raven, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Tawny Owls and Sparrowhawks)

Woody plants: 17 tree and shrub species recorded in 2004 survey (Phil Quinn).

Herbaceous Plants: 108 species recorded (mostly from 2004 (Quinn) grassland surveys) including the nutrient poor (unimproved or species rich) grassland indicator species; Corky Fruited Water Dropwort, Common Restharrow, Upright Brome, Black Knapweed, Wild Carrot, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Agrimony, Autumn Hawkbit, Rough Hawkbit, Lady’s Bedstraw, Field Scabious, Sweet Vernal Grass and Yellow Oat Grass.

Meadow management is desirable to maintain and enhance these populations.

Other species recorded in previous (pre-2004) surveys include Knapweed Broomrape and Hairy Rock Cress. These two species ‘have not been seen for many years’ (Quinn 2004) and hence it is worth surveying for them in future years.

Insects; 2004 surveys revealed 10 butterfly species, including grassland indicators such as Common Blue, Marbled White and Small Skipper: (records over the past 10 years indicate as many as 22 butterfly species on and around Narroways)

Lichens: 13 species have been recorded including a typical suite on ash twigs made up of Caloplaca cerinella, Lecania cyrtella, Lecania naegellii, & Lecanora hagenii.

Species Data Deficiencies: Invertebrates, bats, reptiles and amphibians, mammals, birds, bryophytes, fungi

Priority Recommendations for Future Surveys

  • Bat surveys along scrub and woodland edge (Common and Soprano Pipistrelle and Noctule bats have been recorded by detector over Narroways)
  • Dragonfly and damselfly surveys around local ponds.
  • Botanical surveys of species rich grassland/meadows
  • Botanical surveys of woodland and scrub
  • Mammal activity surveys of the whole site (though, amongst others, we have records of fox, badger, bank vole, wood mouse, hedgehog, roe and Muntjac deer on and around Narroways)

Recommended Three Year Work Plan

Management Type 2015/16

Winter

2016

Summer

2016/17

Winter

2017

Summer

2017/18

Winter

2018

Summer

Review
Annual Hay Cut Meadow (late July-August)   Yes   Yes   Yes 2018
Rotational thin of Scrub, especially of hawthorn, ash, suckering fruit trees Yes   Yes   Yes   2018
Thin young trees of Norway Maple & Sycamore in scrub and woodland Yes   Yes   Yes   2018
Thin scrub/small trees in meadow areas to prevent further encroachment Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 2018
Buy and install bat and bird boxes Yes           2017
10-25% thin of young woody growth in woodland especially ash (every 3 years)     Yes       2017
Cut or scallop Tall Herb/Bramble Communities biennially Yes       Yes   2018
Cut all vegetation (soft and woody) on both sides of all paths Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 2018
Monitor woodland boundary to ensure tree safety     Yes       2017
City Farm community garden – management of pond for biodiversity Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 2018
City Farm city farm community garden- management of native species hedges for biodiversity including trimming to maintain density Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 2018
Review Statement             2018

Botanical identification training and habitat management advice can be provided by Bristol City Council Woodland and Wildlife Officer.

Compiled by Justin Smith; BCC Woodland and Wildlife Officer and reviewed by Geoff Thomson and Harry McPhillimy of NMGT (2015)

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A good year for Narroways Local Nature Reserve

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Narroways finally gained the statutory designation of Local Nature Reserve under section 21 of the National parks & Access to the Countryside Act in spring of this year. These are places with wildlife that are of special interest locally, which offer opportunities to learn about nature. Bristol City Council leases the site to the Narroways Millennium Green Trust to manage the small but diverse habitat for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of local people. This affords Narroways and the area round it, additional protection from development.

The Trust took the opportunity this year to make further improvements to the reserve. We commissioned The Conservation Volunteers to put in new steps and improve the paths that had been particularly muddy in the past. The Trust also negotiated and fenced, with the help of Bristol City Council, a further 300m2 of woodland that had previously been fenced outside the site. Now this area will be kept just for wildlife and enhanced with nesting boxes for birds, log piles for amphibians and insects and more.

The most noticeable reserve improvement is the magnificent new three metre steel signpost/sculpture in Narroways Cutting designed by Kevin Hughes. With direction pointers to Boiling Wells, Ashley Hill and Mina Road/Stottbury Road no one needs to get lost on the site again! It is topped by the Narroways logo, which includes a steel version of a Marbled White butterfly on top. It took a large team of volunteers in October to haul the parts up to Narroways cutting, dig a hole for the sub base and erect the signpost. On Saturday 29th October we had a little ceremony to celebrate the event, with a guest appearance by Steve England who foraged and cooked up some wild food for the occasion. A couple of bottles of sparkling wine were also found and a couple of short speeches made.

In addition a new notice board has been erected on the hill to give more up to date information about Narroways. A new donation scheme has been set up which enables dog walkers (and anyone else!), the most frequent Narroways users, to donate towards the upkeep and improvements on Narroways. For more information go to: http://www.narroways.wordpress.com/donate or alternatively, you can donate £5 by using a mobile phone to text the following: Text NWMG16£5 to 70070 to donate £5 to Narroways.

Narroways is run entirely by volunteers and needs the support of local visitors to the hill to be able to look after it for the benefit of wildlife and anyone who needs a quiet breathing space in the city.

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Narroways Volunteer Days for 2016

Just a quick note to let you all know that we have now set the dates for the volunteer days for 2016. They are: Saturday 13 February 2016, Saturday 19 March 2016, Saturday 16 April 2016, Saturday 14 May 2016, Saturday 18 June 2016, Saturday 16 July 2016, Saturday 20 August 2016, Sunday 21 August 2016, Saturday 17 September 2016, Saturday 22 October 2016, Sunday 6 November 2016, Saturday 10 December 2016.

Please note that this year not all these are Saturdays – a couple fall on Sundays.

Just like previous years, though, meet on the top of Narroways Hill by the bench at 10:30 am. See you there, repeatedly I hope!

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Narroways is now officially a Local Nature Reserve!

On 12th January 2016 Narroways Millennium Green became an official Local Nature Reserve (LNR). Before then it was just a ‘Site of Nature Conservation interest’ (SNCI), which has a lower level of protection.

It has been a major goal of the Narroways trustees for some time to gain this extra protection for the site, situated as it is in central Bristol with the risk of development pressures. It also emphasises the importance of wildlife and biodiversity at Narroways, and its educational value, especially to local children, some of who regularly use it in ‘Forest Schools’ in the area.

Narroways Millennium Green Trust, the site lease-holders, signed up a Nature Reserve Agreement with Bristol City Council, the site free-holders under the terms of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. The contract is for an initial 21 years.

Included in the agreement is a 3-year management plan for Narroways to support and encourage wildlife and biodiversity on the reserve. This includes an annual haycut in late summer to encourage flowering meadows, cutting back of bramble where it encroaches too much and installing more bird and bat boxes. St Werburgh’s City Farm Community Gardens are also within the new reserve and farm staff and volunteers will encourage biodiversity on the site as well as growing crops and providing an excellent facility for disabled volunteers.

Narroways joins other new Local Nature Reserves in Bristol such as Northern Slopes in Knowle and the Avon New Cut, and longer established LNRs such as Trooper’s Hill and Royate Hill. All have a fantastic variety of plants and animals and need to be cherished. http://www.troopers-hill.org.uk/lnr/15lnrs01.pdf

Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are sites containing special interest within the administrative area of a Local Authority for their flora, fauna, geological or physiographical features, and which are managed for the purpose of their preservation or for providing opportunities for related study and research. They are also recognised as an important means of providing for the public enjoyment of nature. LNRs should have a high degree of natural interest, or a combination of reasonable natural interest and high value for environmental education by providing opportunity for research and study of flora, fauna, geological or physiographical features. In contrast, Local Sites are required to have only substantive nature conservation interest and do not necessarily have to provide opportunities for study and research. A commitment to ongoing management for nature conservation, study and research into nature conservation or both, is central to LNR designation. There are now over 1280 LNRs in the UK.

Narroways is managed by a small group of trustees but always welcomes volunteers and people who can appreciate and help to maintain a quiet breathing space for wildlife in the inner city. We have all travelled a long way from the battle in the late 1990s to stop British Rail selling the land off for development. Well done to the people of St Werburghs.

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Bristol Naturalist Society walk on Narroways

Today we were pleased to host a botanical walk around Narroways organised by the Bristol Naturalist Society. There were several very experienced botanists including Clive Lovatt and there were 12 of us in all. We slowly wandered across the hill and down into the cutting before exploring The Orchard and Church Field. There were Greater Knapweed flowers and Field Scabious, Wild Carrot, Perforated St John’s Wort and Broad-leaved Willowherb, Common Mellilot and Bladder Campion. There were also Common Blue, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper butterflies and we saw a soaring Sparrowhawk and hundreds of gulls flying high, presumably after flying ants. People were impressed by the lack of litter on such an urban site.

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Hay cut in the Church Field

Today we gave the Church Field a bit of a trim to encourage wild flowers to grow even stronger next year. Six of us turned up with strimmers and rakes and we soon had about 1/4 of the field cut. Lovely job.

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Narroways Haycut

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Please be careful of fire risk in dry weather

There was a small grass fire on the embankment of the Severn Beach railway line about lunchtime today. A fire engine and crew came out to deal with the blaze and managed to contain it before it spread onto the Church Field of Narroways, or towards the railway track. Firefighters said it was probably caused by a casually discarded cigarette. The Narroways Group and Avon Fire & Rescue Service ask that people be more careful in disposing of cigarettes and matches in this dry weather.

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Fantasy Orchestra performed on Narroways Hill at Easter

http://www.fantasyorchestra.org/2015/04/06/st-werburghs-hill-easter-sunday/

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