Walking in the footsteps of literary giants at Trumpington Meadows
The quintessential summer song of the skylark provided the soundtrack to our recent guided walk for volunteers at Trumpington Meadows Nature Reserve. Coinciding with National Meadows Day, our stroll started off just by the Trumpington Meadows Office, where allotments and greenspace have been set aside for local community use.
Led by Senior Ranger Becky Green from the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, we were able to explore the mosaic of habitats that make up the site, including floral meadows, woodlands and hedgerows. Trumpington Meadows lies alongside the River Cam and Byron’s Pool Nature Reserve, which provide further habitat for aquatic and bird species.
Walking past the wildflower meadows, Becky showed us many floral species including yellow rattle and talked us through the way in which the site is managed. Grazing and hay cutting is carried out in the grassland areas and willow species are pollarded on a rotational cycle. Hedgerows and the scrubland sections are managed in order to keep them in good condition and sections of the river bed have had the addition of gravel shoals. The purpose of the gravel is to increase the flow of the river by narrowing the width, the result of which supports fish species such as brown trout.
The presence of sea buckthorn provided one topic of conversation, this spiny shrub normally found in the sand dunes on the east coast of England, but often planted elsewhere.
Trumpington Meadows is truly a relaxing place, one that is enjoyed by visitors in a number of ways. During our visit we saw families playing in the greenspaces and woodlands, walking groups exploring the meadow-side pathways, dogs and their owners strolling in the vast openness of the site and wildlife watchers taking in the plethora of species on display.
With just enough sunshine breaking through the clouds we witnessed a wonderful range of invertebrate species, with butterflies like marbled white and meadow brown and the six-spot burnet moth easily seen. In fact, we were able to see three stages of the burnet moth lifecycle, from caterpillar, pupa to adult as Geof’s photo below shows! As well as the skylark, we heard yellowhammer and saw a pair of cuckoo, reed bunting and white-throat.
Not only is Trumpington an amazing place for wildlife, it has a fascinating history. It was the location of both Roman and Saxon settlements, a well-known plant breeding facility and a prisoner of war camp. Coprolite beds were also found! The site has very close links to culture, being next to the river where Lord Byron once swam and Grantchester is the neighbouring village, which was home to the poet Rupert Brooke.
It was a memorable visit and one I will remember for a long time! I’ve been inspired to explore some of the works of Lord Byron and Rupert Brooke, I think I should have memorised some of their works to quote on the day!
Amanda Brookes – Volunteering Development Officer (Central England)
Six spot burnet moth, pupa and caterpillar image – Geof Staunton-Howe
Other images – Amanda Brookes