This Exploited Land – hitting the ground running

Tom Mutton – TEL Programme Manager

This Exploited Land (TEL), our HLF Landscape Partnership Scheme, is now building up steam with projects starting on the ground and the recruitment of new project staff underway. As well as myself we’ve got Elspeth Ingleby as our Natural Heritage Officer and Thelma Wingfield as our Administrative Assistant. The remaining two TEL vacancies for a Cultural Heritage Officer and a Volunteer Coordinator are expected to be filled by January. Special thanks to Louise Cooke for building and nurturing the Scheme to where it is today. We hope Louise will continue to be involved with TEL and will see all the project ideas become a reality over the next five years.

One of the first projects underway is the repair of the landslip at the East Kilns in Rosedale. The landslip is on the line of the old Rosedale Railway and is a popular route round the top end of the dale. The remedial engineering works will maintain safe access along the path, enable vital practical access to the two sets of kilns which will be subject to major consolidation during 2017/18, and help conserve into the future the distinctive landscape feature of the railway embankment as it carves its way along the hillside.

Rosedale East landslip - before start of works. Copyright NYMNPA.

The works to stabilise the embankment and rebuild the path involve digging away all the loose material down to firm foundations and constructing four tiers of stone-filled gabion baskets topped with a new stone path. The front of the baskets that will be visible after the works have been faced with soil filled bags containing a specially selected moorland grass seed mix. Despite the cool autumn weather this seed is already germinating.

The works are due to be completed and the path reopened by mid-November.

During the works archaeologists have been keeping a watching brief to help identify and understand the construction of the railway. A couple of original sleepers were salvaged, one with the track shoe still in place. The profile of how the track was built up using waste from the calcining kilns (red/brown) and cinders from engines (black) can be clearly seen in the photograph below taken during the excavation.

Rosedale landslip repairs autumn 2016 - section through the railway track bed showing original materials used. Copyright NYMNPA.

Rosedale landslip repairs autumn 2016 - original sleepers from railway track. Copyright NYMNPA.

Regular monitoring of the landslip by local residents reported on the Rosedale Abbey Blog had showed the slip getting progressively worse so time was of the essence for these repairs at the beginning of TEL. Now the same residents have been reporting on the works underway and will continue to monitor the site as it recovers.

To sign up for the mailing list for This Exploited Land and find out more about our exciting Landscape Partnership Scheme – see here.

This Exploited Land: the trailblazing story of ironstone and railways in the
North York Moors

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Linking Landscapes latest

Alex Cripps – Conservation Graduate Trainee

We’re always looking to make our grant budgets go as far as possible, and for our Linking Landscapes habitat connectivity programme this involves using a mix of delivery mechanisms to undertake the necessary habitat management on the ground. So working alongside land managers that means making use of local contractors, apprentice teams, and volunteers.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAVolunteers from the Rosedale community were hard at work at the end of August with the annual management of the Rosedale churchyard mini-meadow. The conservation site in the churchyard of St Mary and St Laurence in Rosedale Abbey was initially established in 2011. Since then it has developed into a wonderful mini-meadow, with beautiful pockets of wild flowers buzzing with pollinator insects such as bees, butterflies and moths, which in turn support many birds. The site is also providing a home for small mammals and slow worms.

Once a year the mini-meadow needs a helping hand – after the flowers have all died back and set their seed, the excess vegetation needs to be cut and raked off the site to ensure unnecessary nutrients do not build-up. It may seem strange not to want a build-up of nutrients however wild flowers favour poor nutrient-rich soils. Additional local seeds from established meadows nearby were also scattered at the end of the day to encourage even more flowers such yellow rattle, red clover, stitchwort and knapweed to establish and grow.

Keep up-to-date with Rosedale news and events – such as next year’s volunteer day – on their community blog.

Hand cutting - Rosedale Churchyard conservation areaSANYO DIGITAL CAMERABird's Foot Trefoil

Near Oldstead, National Park volunteer teams have been getting stuck in to revitalising an important habitat mosaic area. The Conservation Volunteers spent a whole day pulling up Himalayan balsam (non-native invasive plant species) which was covering a small wooded site and stifling the ground flora. As usual, continued balsam bashing will be required over the next few years in order to have a lasting impact, but it was a good start. The MAD volunteers – MAD means Making a Difference – then braved a thundery wet day
to pull creeping thistle (invasive plant species) from a nearby pasture field. This field contains a diverse mix of habitats comprising calcareous, neutral and acidic grassland;
mire communities and rush pasture; and areas of woody blackthorn scrub and hazel MADs volunteers with giant thistle!coppice. The site is grazed by Exmoor ponies who are great at conservation grazing but they needed a helping hand to deal with these particular thistles which are detrimental to this particular site. This sort of management which needs repeat commitment is picked up in Land Management Agreements between the National Park Authority and the land manager. The Agreements last five years – it’s an EU/NPA State Aid notification requirement (click here if you’re especially interested) – and five years of repeat annual control of invasives and pernicious weeds will make an impact on the ground and enable better quality habitats to survive and flourish.

MAD Volunteers - thistle pulling MAD Volunteers - thistle pulling The MAD Volunteers

We have a Land Management Agreement with the land manager of a site near to Scawton. This particular farm includes a wild flower area where the species include orchids. Often on a farm such sites would be grazed by stock and this would keep the vegetation in check and open up the dense matt of vegetation by the act of trampling. However in this case the area isn’t suitable for grazing because the Cleveland Way National Trail runs through it. So to avoid the site vegetation becoming tall and rank our Conservation Volunteers strimmed back the dead vegetation after all the flowers had set seed and then raked off the debris. This was the first year this task was carried out so it will be really interesting to see how the site responds over the next few years. The site was one of those surveyed earlier in the year by our new Grassland Volunteers in order to establish a baseline species list. This monitoring will be carried out each year, along with the management, and will hopefully demonstrate an increase in abundance of the existing species, and maybe one or two new species as well.

Conservation Volunteers  at workConservation Volunteer - strimmingConservation Volunteer raking off the cut vegetation

 

 

Conservation VolunteerCommon spotted orchidsExmoor ponies can be very effective conservation gaziers

 

 

 

Betony & Common Spotted Orchid  Common Spotted OrchidSelf-Heal & Yellow Rattle

 

 

Ami Walker – Lead Land Management Adviser

The first year of the ‘Linking Landscapes – Grassland Volunteers’ worked really well. Each of the initial Volunteers adopted sites where they will carry out an annual botanical survey. In all –

  • 9 volunteers surveyed 14 sites, a total of 35 hectares of grassland.
  • 140 quadrats were surveyed and 159 different plant species were recorded.

One of the measures for determining if grassland is actually species rich is that it must have at least 15 different species per 1m2 quadrat. 7 of these sites already have these characteristics, and 1 site had 25 species recorded in just one quadrat. Our ultimate aim is to see an increase in the number of plant species at each site, year on year. The results from the Volunteers are essential to identify if this is happening.

Linking Landscapes - Grassland Volunteers, practice surveying at Sutton Bank in the summer

As usual, a big thank you to all our volunteers!

Spring has sprung!

Alex Cripps – Conservation Graduate Trainee

The local community and keen volunteers have been busy in Rosedale and Hartoft so far this spring taking monitoring photographs of the wild daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus). This small photographic monitoring program has been set up following on from the Rosedale wild daffodil baseline survey I carried out last year.

From now on, each year a selection of photographs will be taken from the same places when the wild daffodils are at their best. This will allow us to compare the wild daffodil flowering conditions and distribution overtime. Volunteers have been doing this kind of daffodil monitoring in the neighbouring dale of Farndale for a number of years.Alex surveying wild daffodils

Despite such a late cold spring in 2013, this year the wild daffodils seem to be flowering really well. This ties in with the fact that we had quite a warm, dry summer in 2013 which benefits bulb species. This year I have extended the baseline survey along Hartoft Beck on the east of Rosedale and found more daffodils here.Wild daffodils on Northdale Beck

A lot of the wild daffodils in Rosedale are on private land but daffodils can be seen along the banks of Northdale Beck in Rosedale from the public footpath which starts in Rosedale Abbey.

It has been fantastic monitoring the wild daffodils again and Rosedale is a great place for other wildlife encounters. Just occasionally I get to stop and listen.

I’ve heard the call of Buzzards, sometimes with two or three circling overhead, gaining height on a good thermal. My photograph below is not the best…but I enjoyed watching them!Buzzard

Other unmistakeable sounds around Rosedale at this time of year (bird breeding season) are the calls of Curlew and Lapwing – lapwing are often known as Peewits – you can hear why.

In the spring sunshine there are always lambs skipping through the fields, or in this case watching the world go by from a barn door.Lamb

I also came across a mallard duck with her young, but as soon as the ducklings noticed me they tucked themselves underneath her safe wing. On my way back there she was again, taking her family for a walk.Ducklings
Away from the Easter theme – and maybe not quite as cute but just as captivating – I also came across a nest of wood ants.Wood ants

Rosedale’s mini meadow – part 1

Ami Walker – Conservation Land Management Adviser

I’ve been busy collecting seed from around  Rosedale with Alex and Sam (our LEADER Volunteer). We have used two methods of collection:  seed suckers (a leaf blower in reverse!) are used to collect seed from lots of different plants all at the same time whereas collecting by hand means we can collect the specific type of seeds that we’re after.

The seed will be used in the churchyard of St Mary and St Laurence which occupies the site of the former Rosedale Abbey. Within the churchyard we are creating a mini meadow full of wild flowers. The particular area in the graveyard earmarked for the meadow is where workers from the 19th century Rosedale ironstone mines are buried. There are no gravestones here, as many of their struggling families couldn’t afford to have one.

Hay meadows are not as abundant in the North York Moors National Park as they are across in the Yorkshire Dales, where they are a distinctive part of the scenery. Because we have less of this resource the meadows that we do have are very important for wildflowers, insects, butterflies and birds.

It’s important to have a large variety of plants in a hay meadow rather than a wall-to-wall carpet of just one or two species. This provides a diversity of food plants for a wide range of insects which then feed birds, as well as producing flowering plants for bumble bees and butterflies such as the Meadow brown.

For the mini meadow, amongst the plants we are hoping to encourage are the ‘usual suspects’: Ribwort plantain, Red clover, Ox-eye daisies and Meadow buttercups.

In addition, a particularly interesting and useful species is Yellow rattle. The local name for it is “Poverty” because it is semi parasitic on grasses and therefore reduces the amount of grass that grows in a meadow. It’s a good plant to introduce at the start of a hay meadow creation because by subduing the grasses it allows other plants to become established and thrive.

Another nice plant to have is Pignut, which is attractive to a small sooty black moth appropriately named the Chimney-sweeper. If you walk through grassland where there is pignut at this time of year there will be an abundance of these tiny black moths.

Also we’ll be hoping for interesting grasses like Crested dogstail – the top of the stalk is flat on one side and rounded on the other, like a dog’s tail – and Sweet vernal grass which gives off the classic vanilla-like smell of new mown hay.

The next stage in the meadow creation is to cut and rake an area of grassland in the churchyard and spread the seeds that we have collected.

If you would like to help out with the mini meadow creation check out the Rosedale Abbey website for all the details.

We’ll be letting you know how we get on in future posts and in a while showing you the results.