September Wildlife Article for our Parish Magazine
Wildlife of the Month – Autumn is Coming!
Our wildflowers have bloomed and now that autumn is around the corner, we need to start thinking about cutting these areas ready for next year. Many of you have wildflower areas on your own gardens, which look fabulous and the buzz from our bees and butterflies proves this! Thank you to everyone who has taken part. Not only do the flowers help our pollinators, but also our birds, which use these plants for food and our mammals that can hide and thrive in the long grass areas. There is a lot of advice out there on how best to maintain wildflower meadows and we have decided to follow Plantlife’s advice and KingsCrop advice, which is summarised below:
If you want to cut your wild area once:
Cut the area once a year between August and September and remove the cuttings. This allows plants to flower and, importantly, gives time for seed to be shed. Management should create areas of bare earth to allow good contact between the seed and the soil and provide habitat for invertebrates. If you would like to add more wildflower seeds to these areas, sow the seeds into the bare soil now.
If you want to cut your wild areas twice you can either:
Do a Summer & Autumn cutting
Cut the majority of the area between mid-July and September to mimic the pattern of hay meadow management. Randomly leave some areas (10-20% of the area) uncut to leave some flowering plants for pollinating invertebrates. Cut the entire area again from October to December to remove late season growth. If you have bare soil, you can sow more wildflower seeds now. If you wish to leave some long grass areas long for animals to hide in, you can do so too.
OR Do a Late Winter & Autumn cutting
Cut the verge during February and March. This is before most plants flower and it will not disturb ground-nesting birds. Raising the cutter bar on the back cut will lower the risk to amphibians, reptiles and small mammals. Cut the area again during September and October. It is also suited to areas with early flowering plants, such as cowslips (Primula veris), as it removes any shading vegetation prior to flowering.
Sowing Wildflower seeds for 2020
Autumn is an ideal time to sow more wildflower seeds. Some Farmers use 19th September as the perfect day for sowing wildflowers, so if you would like to see more flowers next year on your wild areas, aim to sow your seeds on or around that date!
Risby Wildlife Working Group (WWG) News
We have been on BBC Countryfile! The BBC came and filmed on 6th August for a short 6 minute film about how we have created a wildlife friendly village and to encourage other communities to do the same. The film was aired on 23rd August. You can see it again via iPlayer from the BBC. The cameras took footage of our beautiful greens, Angela and Tom’s lovely garden, our various wild areas and the fantastic Village Hall. Our thanks to everyone who was involved and everyone who has supported this project. We hope that other projects will follow Risby and create a wilder future for all!
The WWG will be organising work groups this autumn & winter to maintain the wild areas. These will be socially distanced events. These dates will be advertised on the website and our social media pages. If you would like to take part, please contact Sophie: firstname.lastname@example.org