North Meadow Closure Extended to 16th May

Natural England have extended the closure of North Meadow until 16th May. Ground conditions are still very soft putting the meadow at risk of compaction damage. River levels are dropping and the meadow will dry over the next 3 weeks if the current forecast of limited rain remains unchanged.

Check back here to find out when North Meadow is open again. It will be re-opened as soon as ground conditions are suitable.

North Meadow Closed Until 2nd May

Natural England have extended the closure of North Meadow until 2nd May. River levels are dropping and the meadow will dry over the next 2 weeks if the current forecast of limited rain remains unchanged.

Check back here to find out when North Meadow is open again.

North Meadow Closed

Red Crested Pochard
North Meadow Entrance 4th April
North Meadow Entrance 4th April
North Meadow is closed
North Meadow is closed

North Meadow is still saturated and has been closed by Natural England until the 18th April to protect the grassland. It will be reopened as soon as conditions permit. There may still be an opportunity to see the fritillaries if we have a period of dry weather.

Rainfall over the winter months from 1st Sept 2023 to 31st March 2024 has been 51% above average over the last 10 years.

Check back here to find out when North Meadow is open again.

Fritillary Season Approaches

North Meadow Entrance
North Meadow Entrance 20th March

It is still too early to see the snakes head fritillaries and North Meadow is currently flooded and inaccessible. The picture of the entrance taken yesterday shows the current conditions.

It has been a very wet winter with rainfall 45% above average since September last year. Heavy rain at the end of October caused the meadow to flood and water levels have remained high since then.

As the flood water goes down the meadow is a great food source for birds. Large numbers of Little Egrets often 12 or more can be seen from the causeway road feeding in the shallow water. Great White Egrets and Cattle Egrets can also be seen but less frequently and in smaller numbers.

We need a period of dry weather and at this time of year the flooding will quickly recede. If you are planning to visit to see the snakes head fritillaries check fritillary watch again for the latest meadow conditions.

North Meadow is Open

North Meadow
North Meadow Entrance
North Meadow Entrance 4th June 2023

River levels are down to seasonal levels and Natural England lifted the temporary closure yesterday. The fritillary season is finished for this year and the hay crop is growing fast ready for the hay cut later this month.

Red Kite (Milvus milvus)

Large numbers of birds around today including a red kite overhead. Skylarks, Reed Buntings, Curlew, Meadow Pipets, Stonechats, Lapwings and Yellowhammers all nest on or close to the ground. To avoid disturbing these birds please stay on the marked paths and keep your dog on a short lead.

 

North Meadow Closure Extended

North Meadow Entrance 18th May 2023
North Meadow Entrance 18th May 2023

Natural England have extended the closure of North Meadow until 16th June. The warmer weather and no rain in the last week has reduced river levels which are now lower than any time since February. Natural England are reviewing the meadow condition regularly and will re-open the meadow to the public as soon as possible.

Female Banded Demoiselle

Banded demoiselles, newly emerged common blue damselflies, brimstone and large white butterflies were visible from the entrance to North Meadow this morning.

Check back here for further updates on the condition of the meadow.

Update 27th May 2023

North Meadow is still closed to the public. River levels have dropped and the meadow is drying but still very muddy and prone to compaction damage. Natural England are continuing to check to the condition and hope to re-open the National Nature Reserve soon.

North Meadow still closed and flooded

North Meadow Closed

North Meadow Entrance 11th May 2023

The rainfall this week (37mm) has raised the river levels again. The growing hay crop makes the meadow look green from a distance but much of the meadow has 100mm of water in the grass. The paths are impassable and drainage channels have deep water in places where they cross the paths,

The temporary closure is in force until 19th May and it is possible that this may now be extended as  concern is growing for the condition of this internationally important habitat.

Check back here for further updates on the condition of the meadow.

North Meadow is closed but drying

North Meadow 4th May 2023

 

North Meadow Entrance 4th May2023

River levels  have dropped quickly this week and the meadow is now drying rapidly. Ground conditions are still very soft and the pathways are blocked in several locations by water in the drainage ditches. Natural England have not yet opened the meadow to the public to protect the meadow from compaction damage. The temporary closure from 14th April until 19th May is still in force see  closure notice and map showing the area of restriction.

Great White Egret
Great White Egret

The meadow is full of birds feeding on invertebrates in the soft mud. A Great White Egret was feeding on Frogsham meadow next to the road this morning.

The Snakes Head Fritillaries have now reached the end of their flowering season and with more rain forecast  in the next few days it is not going to be possible to see the spectacular display this year.  The hay has now stared to grow and will soon be full of wild flowers still a wonderful sight when the meadow re-opens.

It is possible Natural England will open North Meadow to the public before 19th May if conditions allow. Check back here for further updates on the condition of the meadow.

North Meadow is closed but water levels are lower

North Meadow Entrance on 27th April 2023

River levels  are now dropping but 3 mm of rain this week and more expected today is not helping. The cold overcast weather is slowing the drying process, we need more sun. Although the meadow now looks green the long grass is hiding 50 to 100mm of water over most of the meadow and all of the paths.

Fritillary on North Meadow

The fritillaries are flowering in these difficult conditions see adjacent picture taken by Natural England’s Reserve Manager when assessing the need for continued closure.

Natural England have temporarily closed North Meadow from 14th April until 19th May and have issued a closure notice and map showing the area of restriction.

Red Crested Pochard
Red Crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Little Egret
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

It’s disappointing for those of us who would like to see the fritillaries but the soft mud is providing much needed food for lots of birds. Several Little Egrets, a pair of Red Crested Pochards and lots of Black Headed Gulls were feeding on Frogsham Meadow next to the causeway road today.

It is possible Natural England will open North Meadow to the public before 19th May if conditions allow. Check back here for further updates on the condition of the meadow.

North Meadow still Closed

North Meadow Flooded
North Meadow Entrance 20th April 2023
North Meadow Entrance 20th April 2023

River levels remain high but are now reducing after 6 days without rain in the last week. Natural England have temporarily closed North Meadow from 14th April until 19th May and have issued a closure notice and map showing the area of restriction.

The closure will be in place until the floodwaters have receded and ground conditions have improved to such an extent that people accessing the site will not cause damage to the sensitive habitats for which the site is internationally important.

Cricklade Bloomers Fritillary Tea Room will still be open this weekend if you are in Cricklade and would like some light refreshments. It is run by volunteers and all proceeds will be used to fund the floral displays in Cricklade.

The meadow will dry quickly after a few days of warmer dry weather. It is possible Natural England will open North Meadow to the public before 19th May if conditions allow. Check back here for further updates on the condition of the meadow.