Scarning Conservation  Volunteers

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Scarning Conservation Volunteers worked in conjunction with Scarning Parish Council and Norfolk Wildlife Trust  to improve the area of land between Scarning and Dereham known as Scarning Water Meadows, which is a County Wildlife Site (Ref no.2137) Records are stored online here Records of the Scarning Water Meadow Sub Committee

The aims were to control the rank growth of weeds to enable natural plants of the water meadow the chance to flourish. The aim was to encourage wildlife by improving the habitat and making the area a pleasant place to see wildlife and for the recreational use of residents and visitors to Scarning and the Dereham Area.

Their first priority was to control the weed growth and to clear all cuttings from the land to reduce nutrients going into the soil and stream which would adversely affect the delicate natural species. Work has been done to clear some of the drainage ditches so they provide a better habitat for amphibians and two shallow water filled scrapes have been excavated.

Witches Knickers and other unmentionables 

by Wendy Brown

I like to think that sometimes our readers wonder what exactly do the Conservation Volunteers get up to when they have a working party.   Last January the trusty volunteers decided on a litter pick and a bit of site maintenance.  

The first task was to pull a large branch out of the stream that had broken off in the storm. This was no casy task as it was caught up on the far bank but free it we did along with all the debris that was starting to collect in the branches.  Of course, if we had just left it on the bank it would have been back in the stream in a lricc so it had to be dragged away to a secluded area where it can rot away. 

We then started litter picking in earnest. By the time we had walked from Ted Ellis Walk to the bottom entrance to the playing field covering both sides ofthe stream we had three bags of rubbish between us and was starting a collection of balls in a wheelbarrow. The latest litter issue seems to be debris from Vaping. Empty cartridges and refill bottles were plentiful. lf`you have to indulge in this habit please take your debris home or at least put it in a rubbish bin.  

Witches Knickers (the name fondly given to dog poo bags) both full and empty were everywhere. The cutting and natural die back of plant lite exposes just how many of these are chuckcd away rather than put in a bin. As none ofthe volunteers are dog owners we find clearing these up a particularly unpleasant task. Our carrier bags of rubbish were tipped into the two rubbish bins in the little fenced play area which un surprisingly were both completely empty. By the time I had walked from the lirst youth shelter to the adult fitness equipment I had   another full carrier bag. Vodka and beer bottles, soft drink bottles and numerous crisp packets and sweet wrappers. Anyonc would think you would die of starvation being outside without food supply.  

Then along to the area of wasteland left by the drain clearance. Much of this bank was made from the spoil left over from building the estate There is a plentiful supply of bricks if anyone needs one or two for a small project. We also increased our collection of balls - 15 golf balls, basketball, several footballs some in very good condition and a bag full of tennis and dog balls. We also came across about two carrier bags worth of charity bags for the Hope Foundation. Somebody has been paid to deliver these and has instead pushed them into the brambles but of course being plastic they don't rot away. I'm sure there will be more washed up after the rain.  

In front of the houses someone had decided to leave peels from about five oranges and on a previous occasion a collection of banana skins. These look unsightly, are of no food value to wildlife and take ages to rot down adding nutrients to an area that doesn't need them. There are two litter bins about 20 yards in either direction from this site. Why were they not used?   By the time we had walked the length of the playing field our bags and wheelbarrow were yet again full to bursting and we could carry no more. Several piles of rubbish have been made and they will be collected in due course.  

On our way back to Ted Ellis Walk we cleared the grid over the pipe in the ditch to keep the water moving and also managed to dig out some small channels by the trod footpath which will hopefully allow the standing water to drain off. All this was achieved in two hours. Just think what could be achieved if either we had more volunteers or less rubbish to pick up. 

Bad News

Unfortunately a highly invasive non native water weed was introduced to at least one of the scrapes on the water meadow. It was advised to ban people and dogs from the area to help prevent it's spread.

BioBlitz July 2016

This was a successful day with pond dipping tree walks bumble bee treks and bird box construction. Gemma Walker of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust thanks all who attended the event. Although the weather was against us it did not stop us recording over 300 different species and over 200 people from the local area attending.

Award for Scarning Conservation Volunteers


Scarning Conservation Volunteers are pleased to announced that they have won a 2014 Norfolk Community Biodiversity Award in the Group Award category. The judging panel were impressed by our efforts to manage the Scarning Water Meadows County Wildlife site and our plans to make the area more accessible to the community. The award was announced at the Abbey Conference Centre in Norwich.

Pictures of the area in the winter of 2010 and wild flowers that Wendy Brown took on the Water Meadows in the summers of 2009 and 2011 are on the wild flowers page.

Scarning Conservation Volunteers in action

The pictures on this page also taken by Wendy Brown show the conservation work that has been carried out. The volunteers have turned the Water Meadows back to the place of beauty and haven for wildlife they should be. In 2011 work started on removing some of the willow trees which dry the soil and shade the area preventing the growth of some of the flowers and allowing weeds to flourish. The pictures below show some of the work the team have done.
Two new scrapes were dug 2014

One pool is on the site of an old pond and filled immediately. The other
pool was slower to fill but has a gravel bottom
In addition to digging the scrapes some of the ditches were dredged to give further areas of open water.

Lucy's meadow after scrub clearance. 2014

long tailed tits nest

blackbirds nest

blackbirds nest
Orb spiders found on Lucy's Meadow.
Orb spiders found on Lucy's Meadow.

Starting the bonfire. 2014

tree clearing




Time for a well earned rest, coffee and hot potatoes.

The piles of logs kept for a wood burner

Willow clearing

Willow clearing

Willow clearing Spring

Willow clearing

Clearing Himalayan Balsam

Clearing Himalayan Balsam

Clearing Himalayan Balsam

Banded snail



Foot bridge before

Foot bridge after repair

What was acheived in 2 hours

Stump treatment

Sinking brush cutter

Raking up

Busy workforce

As tall as Reg!