13th June 2024

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Newtown Linford Parish Council Serving the people of Newtown Linford

Newtown Linford Biodiversity Group

The Newtown Linford Bio-diversity Group (NLBG) was set up in 2021. Our aims and objectives are:

  • To help protect and enhance wildlife habitats in the parish of Newtown Linford, from public open spaces to private gardens
  • To increase public awareness and understanding of the need to protect the natural world and foster local biodiversity
  • To promote the conversion of roadside verges to wildflower meadows, providing management if necessary
  • To remove invasive species, especially Himalayan Balsam, from within the village (including the parish of Ulverscroft).
  • To promote biodiversity within the parish of Newtown Linford by publicity and education

We work closely with other organisations, in particular Newtown Linford Parish Council, Leicestershire County Council's Environmental Partnerships Officers who are responsible for, among other things, the Urban Verge Wildlife Project, and Naturespot.

Wild about Nature challenge 2023

We're delighted to announce the results of our summer Wild about Nature challenge.

This was held during August 2023.

Congratulations and well done to Clara W. , the winner.

The joint runners-up were: Maddison and Aspen Taylor; Darcey, Torby and Atticus Brennan.

Many thanks all those who took up the challenge. We hope you enjoyed it.

(Photo by courtesy of Jane Taylor).

Publicity

We publicise our activities, encouraging others to take an interest in Biodiversity. Here is our flyer:

SHIRE Environment Grant: Bird/bat boxes etc.

In 2022, the Parish Council was awarded a SHIRE Environment Grant from the County Council. The aim was to help improve biodiversity around the village by the installation of a number of wildlife boxes in council-owned land in the village (Cemetery, Churchyard, Bob Bown Playing Field and the two wildlife verges). Newtown Linford Biodiversity was involved in the grant application process, and also in siting and installing the boxes. The group has already begun to monitor usage and plans to continue this, hopefully with the involvement of local residents.These items consisted of:

Bird Boxes: 5 nest boxes were installed, on Markfield Lane, Groby Lane, Cemetery, Bob Bown Field (2). All 5 were used in 2022: those on Groby Lane, Cemetery and one of the Bob Bown boxes were used in 2023.

Owl Boxes: A Tawny Owl box was installed at Bob Bown field, and a barn Owl box in the cemetery

Bat boxes: 2 at Bob Bown field, 2 (triple) boxes in the churchyard, 4 in the cemetery,

Insect Hotels: One at Bob Bown Field, 1 in the churchyard, 1 on Groby Lane verge, 1 in the cemetery.

In addition 6 Hedgehog Hotels were installed.

The photos shows a Barn Owl box in the cemetery, and the insect hotel on Groby Lane wildlife verge.

Roadside Verge Wildflower Areas

We manage two roadside areas which we are developing as wildflower areas; one is along Markfield Lane (established a few years ago) and one is at the top of Groby Lane (established in 2022, and pictured: the area was enlarged in 2024). These are part of a County Council scheme to improve the biodiversity of selected roadside verges. The areas are not mown during the summer: this allows wildflowers to grow and set seed. The areas are mown in late summer/early Autumn and the cuttings removed: this is important to reduce the fertility of the area, as most wildflowers prefer poor soils whereas fertility encourages the growth of coarse grasses such as cocksfoot.

We have recorded 76 species of wildflowers and grasses (not including shrubs or trees) at Markfield Lane, and 54 on Groby Lane.

NatureSpot's website (links below) has handy wildlife guides for both sections of verge, with photos of, and information about, some of the many species of plants and animals found there:

https://www.naturespot.org.uk/Newtown_Linford_Groby_Ln_Verge

https://www.naturespot.org.uk/WildlifeGuide/NewtownLinfordGrobyLaneVerge

https://www.naturespot.org.uk/Newtown_Linford_Markfield_Ln_verge

https://www.naturespot.org.uk/WildlifeGuide/NewtownLinfordMarkfieldLaneVerge

We work with other landowners within the Parish to enhance biodiversity on their land.

Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens grandiflora) is an invasive species that grows in wet places, particularly on riverbanks. It spreads easily, and can suffocate other, native, species. It is prevalent along the River Lin. We know that a number of landowners (including Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust) already remove it from their land.

The Biodiversity Group is seeking to remove Himalayan Balsam from other areas within both Newtown Linford and Ulverscroft parishes (with the relevant landowner's consent): it is readily identified and then easily pulled up. We do this in July or August, after it has grown to a size where it is readily identified and easily handled but before it can set seed.

We are always looking for volunteers to help remove Himalayan Balsam; we started the campaign in 2021, when we removed it from around the Tennis Club and from other areas in the village. We continued in 2022 and 2023, where we could see that our efforts had made a positive contribution to reducing the amount of this pernicious weed (complete eradication being a pipe-dream). We will be doing further work in summer 2024.

Wildlife Walks

We run "Wildlife Walks" around the Parish, to look at the local wildlife (flowers, birds, butterflies, etc). These depart from outside the Village Hall.

2023

In March we visited Sheet Hedges Wood to look at early Spring woodland flowers.

On 28 June we visited Lea Meadows nature reserve (owned by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust), where we saw a number of wildflowers in the meadow (spotted orchids, devil's bit scabious, harebells, knapweed, betony, etc.) and a lot of meadow brown and ringlet butterflies.

On 7 July we visited Bagworth Woods, part of the National Forest and a reclaimed coal mine and tip. We saw Pyramidal and Southern Marsh Orchids, as well as many butterflies.

On 16 September we visited Cossingon Meadows, a Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust reserve.

On 25 November we walked through Bradgate Park with an emphasis on the geology of the area. We saw the Markfieldite (South Charnwood Diorite) granitic exposure in Little Matlock Gorge, the Mercia Mudstone outcrop behind the pheasantry - the probable source of Bradgate House's bricks - the dyke in the Stable Pit and the material of volcanic origin that initially accumulated on the ocean floor and now is around Old John.

2024

On 24 February we visited Castle Hill Park, Anstey, looking at trees in winter.

On 30 March we looked at woodland flowers in Sheet Hedges Wood.

On 4 May we went down the "Donkey Track" to Groby Pool.

Next walks

On 4 June 4 we will visit Benscliffe Hay (at 18:30), and on 18 June we will visit Sandhills Lodge (at 14:30), both by kind permission of the owners.

Booking is essential: please ring Toby on 01530 245 298 or email ptm@tobymanning.co.uk.

Meetings

Open Evening

The Biodiversity Group held an "Open Evening" in the Village Hall on Tuesday October 4th 2022, which included a slide presentation on the Birds of Bradgate Park, given by Toby Manning and illustrated with photographs by local resident Jan Croft.

We held another "Open Evening" on November 7th 2023 at 19:30, when our guest speaker, Jack Matthews, gave an entertaining and educational talk about the proposed Charnwood Forest Geopark.

Regular Meetings

We hold regular meetings to monitor progress and to plan events. The next one is scheduled for Monday March 18th, 2024 at 19:30. If you would like to attend please contact our convenor, Claire Costello, on 01530 249613.

Last updated: Mon, 13 May 2024 11:00