Rawcliffe Meadows, along with the Clifton and Rawcliffe Ings, is part of the Ouse Ings floodplain to the north of the City of York in the UK (and provide an essential part in preventing it from flooding). It was notified in 2013 as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The Friends Of Rawcliffe Meadows have managed that part of the Ings since late in 1990. The site provides for a range of plant, bird, animal and insect life, some of which are rare, and limited to such disappearing landscapes. You can find how to get to us here.
Whilst the site is notified for its nationally important population of Tansy Beetles and the MG4 (Meadow Foxtail/Great Burnet) grassland, there is much else to be seen throughout the year. Natural England’s SSSI notification.
Rawcliffe Meadows is proud to be a member of the Tansy Beetle Action Group and one of the Freshwater Habitats Trust Flagship Pond sites. We are also a Buglife Urban Buzz Flagship site.
Find out more about the Friends, and the Meadows, by following the links on the right of this page. Our latest posts containing news and events are below this Welcome. We are also on Facebook.
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Rawcliffe Meadows 2013 (c) Whitfield Benson
||Clearing around tansy Plants – New Meadow and nearby.
||Cut in front of Cricket Field Copse and Pond Hazel’s – rake off any hay or arisings
Bee bank management at north of site
||Water vole scrape – pull out as much Reedmace as possible from the extended pond so that it does not out-compete the Phragmites. Cut back 50% Phragmites.
||Cut in front of Ridge and Furrow to south of Blue Beck – rake off any hay or arisings.
||Pull out fence along allotments track to aid Gary flailing hedge
||Cut blackthorn suckers outside Blue Beck Copse and along Ings Dyke
||Cut back blackthorn in Reservoir Basin to create more space and light for expansion of orchids
||Cut and remove Pond
This is the plan! However, the Environment Agency hope to have their planning application for the Barrier Bank enlargement in by the end of 2018. Subject to approval this would mean a start of site works from April 2019 with a desired conclusion in March 2021. It may also involve using a large area of the Cornfield arable as a works compound, which may being prepared in March 2019. This, of course, affects our funding as we would have to seek permission from Natural England to end the Countryside Stewardship agreement currently worth over £6000 per annum, our sole income for managing more than 40 acres. As more than a hectare of SSSI will be permanently lost, and a similar amount lost temporarily there will have to be mitigation and restoration paid for by the Environment Agency. The site also has a number of highly protected species, which has its own effect on the EA plans. All of this will have to be dealt with in an Environmental Impact Assessment tied to the planning application. This leaves the Friends in a state of limbo with regards to the area until all this can be agreed in detail sometime in the next nine months. We hope to hold a public meeting about this, and the EA are currently promising their own consultation as it will probably involve taking much of Rawcliffe Meadows out of public access for at least two years.
There may be some variation of tasks due to water levels. Sunday work parties from 10:30 am until about 13:00 pm. Thursday from 6:30 pm until dark.
Volunteers are always welcome anytime to keep site safe, clean and secure.
With six of us present (Judi, Julie and Mark, Anne C, Mark A and Mick, it was a lot easier to clear around the clumps of tansy plants. It was also easier with the initial path having been cut out in June and the reduced growth since then. There were also less clegg attacks!
The hay and been cut and Gary and his boys were busy removing the bales as we worked. There appeared to be 64 big rolls from the meadow alone, with the New and Copse Meadow, along with the Cornfield Grassland awaiting bailing.
The vegetation on the other side of the Pond was also a colourful mix of Great Burnet, Meadowsweet, Yellow Loosestrife and Purple Loosestrife.
The following day Pete and Mick tightened up the barbed wire around the New Meadow ready for the cattle to come on for aftermath grazing.
The next work party is on Sunday 22nd July from 10:30 at the New Meadow clearing around the tansy plants there. We’ll soon publish the autumn/winter schedule.
Having started to tackle the competing vegetation by the Pond with the last work party, this time it was the turn of the New Meadow enclosure On another blazingly hot day we were faced with extensive vegetation growth that needed to be cut back to reclaim the tansy clumps.
Unfortunately Judi had limited arm movement due to a serious cut on her arm and after a good start went off to help at an understaffed West Bank Park. This left Pete and Mick until Mark T was able to arrive. The scrub cutter made a wide path through all the area exposing the tansy clumps but disturbing the horseflies that Pete and Mick react badly to and despite the heat had to cover all exposed areas. As with the Pond compound we didn’t have sufficient help to really tackle the area, nor to clear around the tansy by the cattle grid or pull the dock plants intruding into the grassland in front of New Meadow.
Mick was also hoping to feed back on the two and a half-hour meeting with the Environment Agency (EA) the previous week where we learned a little more about their plans for the Barrier Bank, and the ongoing appeal with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) over their erroneous July 2016 inspection and interminable bureaucracy. Without a consistent number of volunteers this all becomes fiddling whilst Rome burns in the face of EA engineering plans and RPA bureaucracy. Having managed the site for 28 years this will be a great loss to the wildlife, York and the wilder community.
All being well the hay cut should commence in the week beginning 1st July and we are back at the Pond on the Thursday 5th July from 6:30 pm, and again at the New Meadow on Sunday 22nd July from 10:30 am.
The next work party will be clearing around the tansy plants at the New Meadow and nearby areas that we have planted up – map here . This is to reduce competition with the tansy plants by some of the taller vegetation to keep our Tansy Beetles happy. Shears and insect repellent will be useful, although we have a supply of shears and gloves!
As this is during National Insect Week we will have lots of free gifts from the Royal Entomological Society to give away to volunteers.
There were sixteen people along to hear Martin Hammond’s walking-talking workshop on our twenty-eight years of experience of restoring Rawcliffe Meadows to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). In addition to the practical experience in York Martin has a wider experience in the County, along with an academic knowledge of the literature to support the practice.
The walk last almost three hours and with an active Socratic dialogue going on during visits to the three of the main fields of the site the practice and outcomes on these were analysed in some detail and hopefully the learning transferred. As much of the site is likely to be lost in Environment Agency works commencing in 2019 this was probably a final opportunity to see the works carried out (not always successfully) since 1990.
Martin and the Friends were thanked at the end and since via email by members of the audience.
For the first time in 2018 we were tackling the vegetation at the Pond and along the ings Dyke where it was seriously in danger of smothering the tansy plants. Not only was the vegetation tall and thick but the Horseflies were very active. Thanks to Pete, Bill, Mark A, Julie, Lauren and Judi for battling the vegetation with shears, whilst Mick made a path around the Pond with the scrub cutter.
The highlights of the evening were listening to the Ring-necked Parakeets overhead, along with the song of the Sedge Warbler in the reeds.
The next session is on Sunday 24th June from 10:30 am at the New Meadow (north of site) where we will be tackling the vegetation there. Shears and insect repellent may be useful. As this is an event in the Royal Entomological Society’s Insect Week we have a supply of free insect guides, pens, pencils, wildflower seeds and other paraphernalia to give away, courtesy of the RES!
Our second Thursday evening work party of 2018 will meet at the Pond at the south of the site. Now we begin our regular cutting back of vegetation encroaching on the tansy plants around the Pond, and if possible along the Ings Dyke. Without this management we wouldn’t be able to easily count the Tansy Beetles and would find their food plants being dragged downwards and smothered by competing species. The Pond compound contains our main population of Tansy Beetles.
Work starts from 6:30 pm and wellies advisable. Shears will be useful although we have a supply.