Monday, 21 October 2013

Peaslands Knapp... meadows and sheep

A great project to reintroduce sheep to wildflower meadows saved by the SVA:

Sheep return to Peaslands Knapp after decades

Friday, October 18, 2013 
SHEEP are returning to Sidmouth’s Peaslands Knapp after decades without grazing there. The meadow lies behind Peaslands Road in the heart of the town and is owned by the Sid Vale Association.
It is such a steeply sloping meadow that it would never have been cut for hay or ploughed - so it must always have been pasture for grazing. It is rich in wildflowers, covered with ant hills and needs to be cut or grazed to prevent it turning into bramble, scrub and eventually woodland.
Kate Tobin, one of the volunteers looking after the reserve, said: “We don’t know how long it is since the meadow was last grazed and would love to hear from anyone who remembers seeing livestock there.”
Riverwood Farm has agreed to bring four of its Devon Longwool sheep from its Talaton farm to the meadow from this week to mid November.
“The sheep are very sedate, but to allow them to settle into their new temporary home with the minimum of disruption, visitors are asked not to enter the meadow while they are there,” added Kate.
“Of course, dogs are not allowed in the meadow at any time. Sheep worrying is a criminal offence, so the Sid Vale Association are asking everyone walking at the Knapp to keep dogs on leads or under very close control in case they try to get in with the sheep.”
Volunteers will be checking the sheep, fences and water several times a day and a number of houses around the top of Peaslands Road should have a good view of them throughout the day.
Sheep return to Peaslands Knapp after decades - News - Sidmouth Herald 

Peaslands Knapp

Peaslands Knapp is a 2 acre wildflower meadow purchased by the Sid Vale Association in 2010. A much needed footpath between Peaslands Road and the Knapp nature reserve is now in place, with a fenced meadow adjacent to it. Visitors are politely asked not to bring dogs into the fenced area so that families and schools can explore it for minibeasts and wildflowers, confident that it is clean and safe.
Latest News
Click here for Peaslands Knapp Blog and Latest News
A team of volunteers maintain the meadow by taking on specific jobs such as strimming, looking after the young hedge trees, clearing bramble or wildlife surveying. Sometimes workdays are organised for bigger jobs. Contractors are brought in for certain tasks, such as fencing and tree work. If you would like to volunteer to help, please email us by clicking here.

Tree Planting
FlowersThe meadow is full of wildflowers in the spring and summer. Most are grassland species, such as Birdsfoot trefoil or Knapweed, but some - like Dog violet and Hairy woodrush - are more typical of woodlands, suggesting it may have been wooded in the distant past.
The meadow is covered in anthills created by yellow meadow ants. Each anthill is the work of a single colony containing thousands of ants and may be decades old. The meadow is a great place to find grasshoppers and butterflies because it faces south west, making it warm and sheltered.
BirdsThe Knapp provides a very varied bird habitat, large birds of prey, buzzards, sparrowhawks and tawny owl, and our smallest birds, wren, and goldcrest are all seen. The site attracts winter visitors, e.g. redwings and summer visitors e.g. chiffchaffs in small numbers meaning that there is always something different to look for. Green woodpeckers love the anthills in the meadow and bullfinches are seen regularly in the trees around the boundary.
MammalsBadger tracks cross the meadow from a big sett nearby. You can see signs of them digging for insect larvae and earthworms. You will also find signs of smaller mammals such as rabbits, voles and mice.
TreesThe trees growing up the slope by the path are a mixture of Western Red Cedars and common limes planted around 1900. The Turkey Oak at the top may have been planted earlier in the nineteenth century. The group of birch trees at the top date from the 1960s when this formed the garden of a “Villa Bohemia”, now redeveloped. The size of the hedgebank near the orchard suggests it is several hundred years old.
HistoryIn 1839, the tithe map shows this area as pasture, or grazed land, known as Nappy Peaselands. It was owned by John Cutler and tenanted by a yeoman farmer called John Pepperall. Many small hills locally are called “Knapp” or “Nap” which seems to relate to a flint outcrop. You can find the purple flower “Knapweed” growing here, named because it is common on such hills. The name “Peaselands” may stretch back to medieval times when peas were a common food for humans and animals and were presumably grown on the gentler slopes below the meadow.
The land was bought using the Sidmouth Landscape Fund, adminstered by the SVA and the National Trust. This fund has been built up by numerous bequests over the years.
Initial works were paid for by the SVA’s Keith Owen Fund  and Awards for All.
With an excellent blog here: Sid Vale Association - Peaslands Knapp Blog

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