Nature lovers flock to see fritillaries at Broad Meadow LNR

April 23, 2015

A WILDLIFE event held at Tamworth’s newest nature reserve exceeded the expectations of organisers – with more than 30 visitors going along to spot a rare flower.

Earlier this month, the 61-acre Broad Meadow, off Lichfield Street, officially became Tamworth’s sixth Local Nature Reserve.

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. Broad Meadow is also one of only two sites in the county where the Snake’s Head Fritillary can be found growing wild.

To mark the designation as an LNR and to showcase the site to the public, Wild About Tamworth and Tame Valley Wetlands organised a guided fritillary walk last Saturday to offer nature lovers the chance to learn more about the flowers and future plans for Broad Meadow, as well as taking part in the annual fritillary count.

And the response was great, with 31 people of all ages going along to Broad Meadow to join volunteers in the project. Volunteer Maurice Arnold has been counting the fritillaries since the 1950s and estimated that this year there are around 300 across the site.

Wild About Tamworth Officer Mel Westlake was delighted with the response – particularly as some of those visitors who went along on Saturday enquired about becoming regular volunteers.

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

The snake head fritillary being enjoyed by visitors

The snake head fritillary being enjoyed by visitors

Broad Meadow is 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.

The awarding of Local Nature Reserve status allows Broad Meadow 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.

Now Wild About Tamworth is looking for volunteers to help improve Broad Meadow by carrying out a number of tasks including day-to-day habitat management, site surveys and litter picks.

The aim is to form a Friends group to look after Broad Meadow, so people with admin and co-ordinating skills are also needed to get that off the ground.

Task days will take place on the second Wednesday of every month from 10.30 to 12.30, meeting at the entrance to Broad Meadow, near to the weir off Oxbridge Way. The next meeting is Wednesday May 13 and anyone interested in getting involved with the group is invited to go along. No experience is necessary and all tools are provided.

Anyone who would like more information or to get involved as a volunteer should contact Mel Westlake on 07970 067711.