Rawcliffe Meadows Work Party Report 27th August 2017 – the Bee Bank

Despite it being a Bank Holiday Sunday the weather was great and there were four of us, Julie and Mark, along with new helper Annie, and Mick. The idea was to clear around the bee bank that was a little overgrown and then plant some of the donated gypsywort along with some self heal to increase the mix of pollinator plants surrounding it. The scrub cutter saw of the worst of the grass, and then shears were used to do the fine work.

The nice surprise was to see two of the roe deer, probably the fawn from a couple of years ago (with the limp) and this years one. There were also large  fox paw prints and smell around the hole to the north of the bee bank. A large black toad was hiding under a piece of plywood at the rear of the bank.

The bee bank started to become more visible whilst there was lots of activity from small dark flying invertebrates using the many holes. Mick also managed to disturb a wasp nest at the rear. The holes in the log section also appeared to have been used.

Interestingly, in the base of one of the gypsywort pots Annie found two dormant Tansy Beetles – a left over from the Geoff & Roma experiments with Tansy Beetle diet no doubt – they were also put into the holes with the plants so it may be interesting to see if the may their way to the nearby tansy plants in the Spring.

There were still some Tansy Beetles about in the New Meadow enclosures and the Cornfield gate have now been left open to give them the opportunity to feed there before the work party on Sunday 10th September (from 10:30) when we shall be spreading yellow rattle seed to reduce the grass growth on the Cornfield Grassland, along with clearing the south-western corner of the field, if the cattle haven’t done it for us.


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The Boys are Back in Town – Rawcliffe Meadows Work Party Report 3rd August 2017

Yes, the boys are back in town – Lammas grazing time already! So we have 27 bullocks meandering around the site.

The reasons why the site is grazed are explained in this blog.

Thursday was the last evening work party of 2017 and the purpose was to add some mature tansy plants to the Ings Dyke bank, along with some gyspywort (another Tansy Beetle food plant) by the Pond. Despite there being only three of us (Judi, Pete and Mick) this was done quickly and we then focused on pulling the Himalayan Balsam along the fence line with Clifton Sports Club.

We were also able to confirm that generation 2017 of the Tansy Beetles were around in quite large numbers as can be see from this photo of a group on a self-seeded plant along Ings Dyke that had none before this year!

The next work party is planned for Sunday 27th August from 10:30 onward. We’ll be working on the bee bank in the northern part of the Cornfield arable, so meet at the Cornfield gate. We have some more gypsywort to plant by the bee bank pond as a good pollen source but the area needs a good trim.

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Report on the Rawcliffe Meadows Work Party 20th July by the Pond

A small group again (just Judi, Pete, Helen, Masha and Mick) but a sunny evening after the rain. It may seem ludicrous to some but protecting the tansy plants from competing vegetation has helped the Tansy Beetle population enormously. The areas around the Pond are prone to bindweed pulling down the plants and the quite gigantic yellow loosestrife  increasingly taking over the areas in late summer – the less aggressive purple loosestrife is present but no trying to take over.

There were still plenty of Tansy Beetles about especially on the norther mound where the plants look as if a plague of locusts rather than Tansy Beetle larvae have hit them. There were also beetles along the Ings Dyke. Given the numbers of beetles it would be hard to say whether these are last years or part of the 2017 brood (for a good explanation of the Tansy Beetle life cycle visit the Tansy Beetle Hub).

The next work parties are:

Month Sun Thurs Task
August 2017  




3 Plant Gypsywort (near Pond) and Tansy along Ings Dyke


Bee bank management at north of site

Sept 2017 10 Spreading Yellow Rattle on Cornfield Grassland – clearing around tansy and rescuing unused barn owl box on grassland
October 2017 8 Water vole scrape – pull out as much reedmace as possible from the extended pond so that it does not out-compete the Phragmites
November 2017 19 Coppicing and clearing within Blue Beck Copse
December 2017 3 Water vole scrape – pull out as much reedmace as possible from the extended pond so that it does not out-compete the Phragmites
January 2018 7 Cut back blackthorn in Reservoir Basin to create more space and light for expansion of orchids
In addition
  Cut and remove Pond
  Erect remaining Barn Owl box

May be some variation due to water levels.

Sunday work parties from 10:30 am until about 13:00pm.

Thursday from 6:30 pm until dark

Volunteers are always welcome anytime to keep site safe, clean and secure.


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Report on the Rawcliffe Meadows Work Party 9th July 2017

Giant Bellflower

Again there were only four of us – Judi, Pete, Julie and Mick but we cleared around the tansy on the bank of New Meadow, near the cattle grid and under the interpretation board. The sward is improving all the time and the nettles, and hogweed are less of an issue. Mick also ventured into Blue Beck copse knocking back the nettles and balsam looking for two Elm trees we had planted there four years ago – one is over three metres tall but the other one couldn’t be found this year – it’s maybe under flood debris or playing hard to find!

No pictures of people working this time, just some of the creatures we saw! There were still a couple of Tansy Beetles about but the tansy plants were a hive of activity for other creatures.

Next work party – Thursday 20th July by the Pond at the south of the site.


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Reports on Ings History Walk 20th June and Rawcliffe Meadows Work Party 22nd June 2017

Fifteen people appeared magically for the walk around Clifton Ings and Rawcliffe Meadows led by Martin Hammond on the evening of 20th June. Luckily a combination of dry weather and not excessive heat made for a comfortable time.

The group first crossed from Rawcliffe Meadows onto Rawcliffe Ings, then onto Clifton Ings taking the path along the flood bank until they took the desire line back across to the Ings Dyke to cross back on Rawcliffe Meadows and the cycle track.

The group were told about the role of the Ings in history, along with various amusing anecdotes. They were also introduced to their botany and importance as some of the few remaining examples of flood meadows in the UK.

In passing, the small group of bee orchids at the north of the site had just about survived whilst not expanded.

On Thursday 22nd Pete, Mark A, Judi and Mick were back tackling the vegetation around the Pond competing with the tansy plants.

The tansy plants on the northern mound had been aggressively chewed to pieces by the Tansy Beetles and their larvae whilst plants on the southern mound remained fairly healthy but still had many beetles. The team also trimmed around plants nearby at the Ings Dyke and Cricket Field Copse – the plants by the dyke being also well eaten and still having Tansy Beetles including one self-sown plant that had beetles and larvae.

There was also plenty of knapweed and great burnet in flower.


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Report on the Rawcliffe Meadows Work Party Sunday 11th June 2017

The Rawcliffe Meadows work party on Sunday 11th June 2017 started at 10:30 on the banks of the New Meadow. The plan had been to manage vegetation competing with the tansy plants but this was taken a stage further in that some of the plants had started to brown off and were clearly hosts to a lot of black-fly. On this basis a decision was made to cut into the clumps that were affected but as Tansy Beetles were still active, leave the cuttings. There were only three off us (Judi, Mitch and Mick) so Judi and Mitch did the finer work whilst Mick cut back the Himalayan Balsam, hogweed and creeping thistle that were there, by the cattle grid, on the Reservoir Basin bank and along the southern bank of Blue Beck. A solitary Tansy Beetle was spotted on the plants near the cattle grid but none along Blue Beck unfortunately, although the plants there are doing well finally.

A very dark Tansy Beetle was on one of the New Meadow plants.

The next work party is on Thursday 22nd June at 6:30 by the Pond, tending to the tansy plants there and along the Ings Dyke, and (if we have enough volunteers) clearing a way into the Cricket Field Copse.

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The Story of the Ouse Ings – a guided walk Tue 20th June 2017 at 6:30


You’re probably aware that the remaining Ings meadows along the River Ouse are an important part of York’s natural environment. But these grasslands can also tell us fascinating stories about how local people used the resources around them. Perhaps harvested for hay since Roman times, the Ings were features of the Anglo-Saxon landscape and highly-valued throughout the medieval period. Such was the value of these meadows that elaborate customs developed to ensure their equitable and sustainable management. Clifton Ings has a particularly rich history: as well as its agricultural heritage, it played a role in the foundation of St Mary’s Abbey, the Civil War siege of York and the establishment of York Races.

Martin Hammond, author of the recently published  “Deep Meadows and Transparent Floods – The Story of the Ouse Ings” will be leading a walk looking at the landscape and social history of Clifton Ings and Rawcliffe Meadows on Tuesday 20th June, starting at 6.30 PM. This is a free event, though a small contribution to Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows is always welcome! The walk will be approximately 3.5 km (2.25 miles), starting at the northern end of Rawcliffe Meadows, meeting at the interpretation board at the end of the track though the Allotments on Shipton Road, York.

There may be a small number of copies of his book for sale, if they haven’t sold out!

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