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CROW (Conserve Reading on Wednesdays)
Wednesday, 30th April 2014
Waterloo Meadows ~ Preparing for wildflower meadow

Having created a very successful wildflower meadow in 2005, the Friends of Waterloo Meadows have decided it is time to repeat the exercise. Having identified a location close to the original meadow and cut back the bramble with which it was covered, CROW was enlisted to help complete the preparation and when they arrived at the end of April the bramble was already making a bid to reassert its dominance and was being assisted in this by nettles.

With mattocks and forks CROW set about clearing the vegetation.

The roots of both bramble and nettles were dug up and cleared.

It was probably the warmest day of the year so far and the song of the whitethroats, blackcaps and garden warblers to be found at the site almost drowned the drone of the traffic on the nearby roads. Butterflies such as this peacock, where also much in evidence .....

..... and even this little chap, a cockchafer, made an appearance.

Correction: I have since been advised this is a rose chafer (or rose beetle) - apologies for any offence caused. According to the Natural History Museum website unlike cockchafers whose grubs live on the roots of a wide range of plants and are generally categorised as a pest, the grubs of the rose chafer are beneficial feeding on decaying leaves and vegetable matter and are the insect equivalent of the earthworm capable of creating good quality compost if present in sufficient numbers.

At the start of the task we had decided it would be sensible to only try to clear half the area identified, the rest being left probably for another year.

By early afternoon we were thankful to have taken that decision for the energetic nature of the work combined with the warmth of the sun was sapping our strength but good progress was being made.

With most of the area clear we decide to call it a day, a small section remaining was left to be tackled by the Friends. The area can then be left for a couple of weeks in which time anything missed should emerge and can be cleared, after which the sowing can take place. We look forward to seeing some photo's of the site, a blaze of colour, later in the summer.

Many thanks to our volunteers for the day: Peter, Mary, Janet, Cathy, Bob, Barry and Alan. Thanks in particular to Cathy for organising the task, to Mary for the photographs and to The Conservation Volunteers for the additional tools (well all the tools actually).

Created: Sunday, 4th May 2014
Photographs: Mary Wallman