Record number of rare fritillaries counted on Broad Meadow

May 9, 2018

HANDS-ON wildlife lovers have been busy helping to count a record number of rare flowers growing at Tamworth’s ‘jewel in the crown’ Local Nature Reserve.  

This year’s count of snake’s head fritillaries showed that the hard work on Broad Meadow is paying off – with a record 523 fritillaries counted. An amazing 25% increase on last year’s figure and the highest number recorded since 1990.

Volunteers of all ages were invited to go along to the 61-acre Broad Meadow, off Lichfield Street, to take part in the annual count of snake’s head fritillaries, as well as finding out more about plans for the future of the site.

Broad Meadow sits on a small island between the two channels of the River Tame and is recognised as a Site of Biological Importance as it is a prime example of lowland meadow – a floodplain grassland habitat which is becoming increasingly rare in Staffordshire and across the UK. It is also one of only two sites in the county where the snake’s head fritillary can be found growing wild.

Broad Meadow is run and managed under the Wild About Tamworth project – a partnership between Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. The project aims to make the site more accessible to people by opening it up and more valuable to wildlife by allowing the fritillaries to spread.

Broad Meadow, off Lichfield Road with the river protected by a fence.

Broad Meadow, off Lichfield Road

The stunning fritillaries are currently in bloom and in order to encourage the fritillary population, it is important that the ground conditions are maintained and that competing species are removed. The most effective way to do this is through the use of cattle grazing. This summer will see the return of the Hereford and Angus breeds of cattle, chosen to live on the meadow because of their docile natures.

Wild About Tamworth Officer, Shelley Pattison, said: “We had more than 20 volunteers come to help us out across a series of events and we counted a total of 523 fritillaries – which is one of the highest populations recorded. This is great news to mark the third year since the cows were introduced to roam free in the meadow during June to December.

“It was great to see the volunteers coming along to learn more about Broad Meadow and to join us in the fritillary count. We had some lovely feedback, with a lot of positive comments about the site and our plans for its future.”

Three years ago Broad Meadow officially received Local Nature Reserve status, which allows the site to be protected as a conservation area for future generations, as well as creating more opportunity for grant money to be made available for conservation works.

Anyone who would like more information or to get involved as a volunteer should contact Wild About Tamworth officer Shelley Pattison on 07970 067711 or email tamworth@staffs-wildlife.org.uk