Great Maxfield, Brede Valley

Field meeting reports

Meeting date: 3 August 2013

(Leaders: Jacqueline Rose, Judy Clark, Ellen Campbell)

Philip Newton, owner of Great Maxfield in the Brede Valley, has been restoring wetland for 25 years.  The aim of this excursion was to record missing species and to see just what can be achieved when a landowner attempts conservation on a landscape scale. It was a perfect day for botanising, warm with sunny intervals and a light breeze.  The turn-out was terrific, with seventeen arriving from far and wide.  Philip and Maria were most welcoming, giving us permission to wander wherever we wanted.  We began by looking in TQ81H at an area of damp meadow and ponds that had been established on previously arable land after all the topsoil had been removed. The sale of the soil paid for the restoration.  Some meadow species had been introduced by spreading locally collected seeds, including Oenanthe pimpinelloides (Corky-fruited Water-dropwort), which is now relatively abundant.  Eight new records were added. We moved on to Doleham Halt. After lunching in a field with a magnificent view of the Brede Levels, we split up into groups to record the ditches and damp pastures of TQ81I and N.  Restoration has involved raising water levels and using sheep, Highland cattle and a small herd of Konik ponies for managed grazing.  TQ81N, containing more recently restored areas, provided 24 new records, including Potamogeton obtusifolius (Blunt-leaved Pondweed), Sparganium emersum (Unbranched Bur-reed) and Hippuris vulgaris (Mare’s-tail).  Eight new species were spotted in TQ81I.