The missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle, Reeves Meadows in Thelnetham, joins together Hinderclay Fen with Suffolk Wildlife Trusts Thelnetham Middle Fen and our outlying site Carr Meadow. Purchased in August 2019 Reeves Meadows, is a really important acquisition for us, it now creates a continuous corridor of land managed for conservation from Thelnetham Ford to Hinderclay Fen.
Since we acquired the site we have held a meeting of our Conservation Advisory Group (CAG) to discuss the future of the site. We have started to gather together information on the site such as level surveys, soil samples, invertebrate and botanical data.
Summer 2019 was the first time we could really start to explore the site. Across the site the grassland varied significantly – the main meadow is suitable for hay, the middle part of the meadow over run with Ragwort – which is really important for a wide range of insects but may cause us headaches in the future. While the area closest to the river is half dry grassland with finer grasses, flowering plants and ant hills and half wet grassland with alder saplings happily growing. A walk through the long grass revealed over 100 Pyramidal Orchids, several Bee Orchids and even a few Southern Marsh Orchids.
Pyramidal Orchid © Rowena Langston
Plans for the Future
For the next few years we will continue to take a hay cut from the main meadow – we need to make sure the hay stays clean with no ragwort or hemlock in it, otherwise the farmer will not be able to take it for hay.
Sheep will graze the main meadow after the hay cut, and the middle meadow to reduce the thatch. With possibly some light grazing on the two areas by the river, for the next few years while we work out what the best management of the site is. It might be a different grazing regime, using different animals or no grazing.
More surveys are required – invertebrate, botanical. A link to wider catchment projects that are looking at siltation affecting our sites. Along with access improvements, interpretation and public enjoyment.
There are three public footpaths which criss cross the site one runs from Thelnetham Church into Reeves Meadows joining the one from Church Lane. The both head towards the river and join the east west footpath joining Hinderclay Fen and Thelnetham Middle Fen. The latter is also the route of the Angles Way long distance footpath. Signs will be put up on site when the sheep are due to be grazing just reminding people to keep their dogs on a lead and under control.