Work has started on flailing the meadows at a number of Langdyke’s reserves to ensure we maintain a wide spectrum of outcomes for nature.
Although to some the work looks heavy-handed, the maintenance is crucial if we are to maintain the areas for future seasons.
Tractors have been out and about in recent days on many of our meadow areas. Although they are grazed for many months by the Langdyke sheep they still need some extra heavy attention from time to time.
In a post on Facebook, responding to minor criticism of the timing of the flailing and its impact on Skylark nests, ecological consultant and botanist Sarah Lambert said: “The grass cutting looks damaging at first sight but if you continually cut grass late in the year it becomes dominated by rank species and you lose many of the smaller wildflowers including orchids.
“Many of the road verges round Peterborough have lost a lot of their botanical interest because they are regularly cut in September, even though the cuttings are removed.
“Cutting part of a site early helps to maintain botanical diversity, while leaving areas of untouched grassland for invertebrates and nesting birds. Interestingly, some of the best sites I know for skylark are hay meadows normally cut in June. Skylarks nest on the ground, in vegetation which is 20–50 cm high. This vegetation must be open enough to give the birds easy access to the ground. As long as no cutting takes place between early April and end of May, skylark populations shouldn’t be impacted (RSPB) and in future years the sward should be more suitable for nesting.”
Trustee Brian Lawrence has been out and about at the Etton Maxey reserve to capture photographic evidence of the result of the actions.