Posted by: lensweb | September 13, 2018

Save Our Sandiacre Beauty Spots

Some of you may already know that Stoney Clouds at Sandiacre is one of my favourite places. I have been there so many times to enjoy the panoramic view. But, earlier this year, I was introduced to more of Sandiacre’s Beauty Spots, the ancient hay meadows of Cloudside Farm and Sandiacre Marsh, a recognised wildlife site alongside Erewash Canal Bridge No 12, by Helen Thompson a concerned local resident. She is supporting ‘Save our Sandiacre Beauty Spot’ a local campaign aiming to minimise the effect of the proposed HS2 high speed train on it’s journey through the green belt between Nottingham and Derby.

Sandiacre smallFirst of all we looked at the hayfield, it had been cut! But a channel running at the edge of the field revealed several unusual plants such as the shining buttercup flowers of lesser spearwort Ranunculus flammula, Tufted Forget-me-not Myosotis laxa, with tiny blue flowers, hoary marsh cudweed Gnaphalium uliginosum and the orange stamened flower heads of Marsh Foxtail Alopecurus geniculatus. Black heads up, out of the water were the barely branched stems of Marsh Horsetail Equisetum palustre.

We climbed over a stile into a flooded meadow which was tufted with rushes, interspersed with sedges. The finely divided feather leaves of Common Water-crowfoot Ranunculus aquatilis were floating in pools and to our great surprise growing on the cattle-poached edges, the angular leaves of Ivy-leaved Water-crowfoot Ranunculus hederaceus, a very rare plant in the Erewash Valley. We were delighted to see dark green grasshoppers with black and white striped waiscoats, Meadow grasshoppers enjoying the sun. Bright yellow daisies of Marsh Ragwort Senecio aquaticus peered over the reeds. A long winged conehead, a female with a curved ovipositor played ‘peek a boo’ on the long hollow cylindrical stems. Two furry caterpillars chewed leaves, careful not to fall into the pools of standing water. Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre, Skullcap Scutellaria galericulata, Water Forget-me-not Myosotis scorpioides, Brooklime Veronica beccabunga , Ragged Robin Lychnis flos-cuculi and Common Bedstraw Galium palustre, were just a few of the water loving wildflowers in this colourful mosaic.

helen bridgesmallAs we crossed Bridge No 12, we looked up to St Giles Church. This is a view that never palls. Helen showed us something special. On a still day the church is perfectly reflected framed in the classic arch of the eighteenth century canal bridge. A narrow boat, chugged it’s way to an evening mooring as we walked along the Erewash Canal towpath to Sandiacre Marsh.

Now colourful canalside flowers captivated our eyes. Glowing orange jewel weed Impatiens capensis amid the flounced leaves of Gipsywort Lycopus europaeus, Blue Skullcap flowers Scutellaria galericulata (the white seeds like little skull caps), ray-less yellow discs of Bur-marigold Bidens tripartita and the bright green spiked fruits of branched bur-reed Sparganium emersum with burnt tipped spear-shaped leaves edging the canal. Striped pike hid beneath the Water-lily pads with yellow waxy flowers Nuphar lutea, purple eyed flowers peeped between the distinctive leaves of arrowhead Sagittaria sagittifolia and the beautiful pink umbels of flowering rush. Butomus umbellatus.

We turned into the dark marsh, where large willows were gracefully reclining. A smattering of Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera , that pretty pink, tiresome alien plant, and fluffy waving heads of Common Reed Phragmites australis. Great Yellowcress Rorippa amphibia surrounded large remnant pools covered with Lesser Duckweed Lemna minuta. It was very shady but we found Cornmint Mentha arvensis, Wild Angelica Angelica sylvestris, Skullcap Scutellaria galericulata and, a delightful surprise, Enchanter’s Nightshade Circaea lutetiana.

Helen wanted to know if there were any bats, so that evening we went out with our bat detectors. It was a fine warm night and the bats were busy feeding. We counted the bat chatter picked up on our detectors,from Sandiacre Lock Cottage keeping moving, so we didn’t count them twice. Springfield Mill was all lit up. Two large bats near the Mill were brown long eared bats, ‘ the quiet bat’. The straight flight of a bat along the surface of the canal may have been a Daubenton’s bat. The others were a mixture of common and soprano pipistrelles A Bat Group might carry out a survey in which they would record the bats and give a reliable identification but in all, we counted 50 bats, with a higher concentration in the area of Sandiacre Marsh.
It would be such a shame to lose these lovely sites with their fragile wildlife communities. Helen feels the proposed new flyover for the HS2 train might devalue the recuperative powers of the timeless 18th Century landscape, so many people use the Nutbrook Trail and the Erewash Valley Trail cycling and hiking links to ‘Get Away From It All’.
In Autumn the HS2 Environmental team joined us in a walk around Sandiacre Marsh, they were able to highlight the local wildlife site on the HS2 plans. The team showed a real appreciation of the biodiversity value of Sandiacre Marsh and hope to use the opportunity provided by HS2 to improve the amenity value of the area.
Marion Bryce 13 September 2018

DSC_8657Sandiacre small


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