Our sample of farmland for this year’s series of pilot surveys was at Nannerth fawr. A group of members and supporters met there on June 27th 2010.
Here we explored the wildlife-rich haymeadows, hedgerows and wet pastures and amassed records of wildlife from the nationally scarce plant wood bittervetch (Vicia orobus) to scarlet tiger moths, four-spotted chaser dragonflies, masses of toadlets leaving the ponds, and the huge variety of farmland flowers and insects.
Our route took us at first through colourful hay meadows of considerable botanical interest. Their abundant eyebright, yellow rattle and crested dogstail grass reminded us of days when all hay meadows looked as beautiful as these. Hedgerows were mainly of hazel with some blackthorn and dog rose, the woodland edges of oak and ash. The wet pastures (termed rhos in Wales) were dominated by soft and sharp-flowered rushes with purple moorgrass and proved to be an absolute haven for wildlife with plentiful sprays of marsh bedstraw, lesser spearwort, marsh willowherb and in some places water forget-me-not the main caterpillar food plant of the scarlet tiger moths that fluttered about us like large colourful butterflies. At the rhos edges grasshoppers abounded and spikes of heath-spotted orchids added splashes of pale pink. Overhead buzzards and red kites accompanied us throughout our visit.
It was clear that Nannerth fawr was a very good place for wildlife but we wondered whether it was the exception among our local farms. Next year we need to explore more farms to answer the question – is the biodiversity of Nannerth fawr exceptional or is it quite typical of many local farms ?