Beech Estate

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 2 June 2007

(Leader: Pat Donovan)

Ashburnham Meadows, which form part of the Beech Estate, have been in Countryside Stewardship since 1994 and were last visited by the Society in 1998. Many of the fields are unimproved, typically with such species as Genista tinctoria (Dyer’s-greenweed), Rhinanthus minor (Yellow-rattle) and Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted-orchid). Some have been improved and others ‘enhanced’ with local seed. One in particular, Jameson’s Meadow, visited previously and rich in species, had deteriorated considerably after grazing was stopped following a problem with Oenanthe crocata (Hemlock Water-dropwort). Both Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted-orchid) and D. maculata (Heath Spotted-orchid) grew in the field by Bunces Barn, where we stopped for lunch. The barn was near-derelict in 1998 but has now been totally restored and re-thatched, with its history displayed in pictures on the walls inside.

The discovery of a bull in one field meant a diversion down a track, where there were several clumps of Sedum telephium (Orpine) on the banks and Festuca pratensis (Meadow Fescue) and Carex laevigata (Smooth-stalked Sedge) on the grass verges. The track led to the Old Coach Road, its banks containing many plants more commonly associated with chalk, for example Bromus erecta (Upright Brome), Sanguisorba minor (Salad Burnet), Briza media (Quaking-grass) and Leontodon hispidus (Rough Hawkbit).