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Scarning Water Meadows

Scarning Conservation Volunteers working for wildlife in Scarning Water Meadows

Scarning Conservation Volunteers work 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)
Scarning Parish Council no longer has a sub committee to deal with the meadows. Anything coming up is dealt with in normal meetings but the records are stored online here Records of the Scarning Water Meadow Sub Committee

The aims are to control the rank growth of weeds to enable natural plants of the water meadow the chance to flourish. We aim 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.

Our first priority is 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.

If you are interested in helping with the conservation activities we would welcome you joining our group. We carry out tasks on one weekend most months. You can do as little or as much as you can commit time to.
For further information please contact James Walker Task co-ordinator/Leader and liaison with contractors/advisors Tel 01326 698860

Working Party Dates
Meeting on Ted Ellis walk at 10am
19th January
16th February
16th March
Please let me know if you can attend so that we can plan tasks.
James Walker
Tel 01326 698860

Witches Knickers and other unmentionables 

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 21 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 has been introduced to at least one of the scrapes on the water meadow.
We have been advised to ban people and dogs from the area to help prevent it's spread and this is in hand.
We are looking into options for removal of the weed but we made need to fill the scrapes in.
We will still be doing other work on the meadows as and when we can and will keep you updated on the situation.

New path

The hard path which has been installed along the west side of the meadows to make a more all weather route for walkers and persons with disabilities has been completed.
The two scrapes have held up well after being slightly deepened so that there was always some water to maintain aquatic life right through the summer.  A good range of species have now colonized the scrapes as shown by the sampling done at the Bio Blitz in July.

Planned tasks

Cutting back of the rank vegetation
Installation of bird boxes
Some wire fencing to adjust
Brambles to trim back
Material to burn
Some in-fill of hedge gaps
Remove self set tree saplings
Install two new info boards
Litter picking
Pull non-native plants when they emerge in  spring
The more support people give to Scarning Conservation Volunteers the greater the progress in maintaining and enhancing the area for wildlife and recreation.  There is much to see and learn about from an hour or two on site.  We have a refreshment break and sharing time mid session. If you are interested in any of these activities or would like to help in any way or would like further information, please call  James Walker 698860


BioBlitz July 2016

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. If you would like to join the group, or to find out more, please call Wendy Brown on 69506

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 are turning 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.

In December 2014 two new scrapes were dug
One pool is on the site of an old pond and filled immediately. The other
pool is being 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 2014
blackbirds nest 2014
blackbirds nest
Orb spiders found on Lucy's Meadow. Orb spiders found on Lucy's Meadow.l


Starting the bonfire. 2014

tree clearing 2014

the same picture in 2010



Time for a well earned rest, coffee and hot potatoes.2010

The piles of logs will be kept for a wood burner 2010

Willow clearing Spring 2011.

Willow clearing Spring 2011.

Willow clearing Spring 2011.

Willow clearing Spring 2011.

Clearing Himalayan Balsam July 2011.

Clearing Himalayan Balsam July 2011.

Clearing Himalayan Balsam July 2011.

Banded snail

Frog August 2011.

Toad August 2011

Foot bridge July 2011.

Foot bridge August 2011 after repair

What we acheived in 2 hours in September 2013

Stump treatment September 2013

Sinking brush cutter September 2013

Raking up September 2013

Busy workforce September 2013

As tall as Reg! September 2013