Thursday, 2 October 2014

Alex Pastures a once moribund SSSI moving forward

With the kind permission of Mr Carl Floyd, owner of Alex Pastures, a collaboration between Butterfly Conservation, Kent Wildlife Trust and Moat Farm has begun, aimed at restoring the meadows to the species-rich unimproved grassland of the past.

The first stage has been to cut back invasive scrub (mostly blackthorn and bramble) to encourage the rarer meadow plants to re-establish themselves in the first of the two fields at Alex Pastures.  The first picture, below, shows the site entrance before work commenced.

Summer 2014, invasive scrub had over-run much of the original grassland

After scrub removal, just the deeply-rutted track has been left
The first cut and removal of scrub had an immediate effect opening up the meadow to a significant size.
Whilst wishing to return Alex Pastures to the high quality, rare, unimproved grassland of the past, the invasive scrub has allowed new colonisers to breed successfully on the site. These include Red Data listed Turtle Dove, fast declining Bullfinch (feeding flock of 7 there last night) and one of the highest concentrations of Nightingale in Orlestone Forest. Alex Pastures, at less than 15 acres, is a small site and balancing flora and fauna now present with the desire to return the meadows to the splendour of the past is going to be a skillful task.

The original grassland has been left surrounded by nothing much more than dry earth following the scrub removal. Next spring, if my memory serves me well, the fields will be peppered with hundreds of Primroses.

Panoramic of Alex Pastures top field showing scrub removal. The site margin left and to centre has a well developed scrub habitat - a stronghold of Bullfinch, Garden Warbler and Nightingale.

1 comment:

Picturit said...

You must retake these photos next summer, will be interesting to see the change