Legacy Grazing Project Red Poll cattle

More than 75 HNHS members and their friends attended the Society's Autumn Meeting and AGM on Saturday 4 November  at the Affinity Water offices in Hatfield.

One theme to emerge from a series of well-received presentations was the value – in both conservation and money-saving terms – of grazing animals used to restore and maintain sensitive habitats in nature reserves. 

Roger Beecroft, Herd Manager of the 'Legacy Grazing Project' which supplies Red Poll cattle and Old English goats for a number of Hertfordshire reserves, described how their feeding habits help clear unwanted brambles and other scrub vegetation while enabling orchids and rare plants to prosper.  

(l. to r.) HNHS Chair, Agneta Burton and speakers: Jenny Sherwen, Ian Carle, Chantal Helm, Sarah Scott and Roger Beecroft

Jenny Sherwen from the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust also talked about the part that grazing animals had played in restoring the ecological health of the Thorley Wash reserve in east Hertfordshire's Stort Valley.  Restoration of the wetland meadow at the SSSI progressed so successfully that it was chosen as the relocation habitat in 2015 for 180 water voles displaced from marshland being flooded by sea water in Essex.

Sarah Scott, from the Environment Agency, meanwhile, summarised her research on the importance of rivers and canals to bats. Her studies found that feeding Common and Soprano Pipistrelle Bats made particular use of these 'corridors', where their presence was an indicator of ecological health. Associated wet woodland was preferred by Daubenton's Bat and other myotis species. 

The Society's prestigious 1875 Awards  were presented at the meeting.  County butterfly recorder Andrew Wood, author of the recently-published Butterflies of Hertfordshire and Middlesex, received the 2017 award for an outstanding Hertfordshire naturalist. The awards for an outstanding contribution to natural history in Hertfordshire was made posthumously to Ted Fletcher, long-time Secretary to the Herts Bird Club and Editor of the Hertfordshire Bird Report, who sadly died last year. Marilyn Coupland, his partner, received the award in his memory.

We are most grateful to Alister Leggatt and Affinity Water for hosting the meeting and providing refreshments.