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  • Writer's pictureAlistair

Marshy Grassland: Perfect for a summer's afternoon wallow

Galloways in amongst the soft rush and valerian

The Galloway cattle are currently at work in the marshy grassland in the SSSI area, opening up the soft rush as they munch and trample their way through, giving everything else a chance to spring up. The Gals love it, spending a lot of time there when they have the option of a lush, improved field just up the bridleway. In part I suspect it is cool, with plenty of water under hoof, and partly I suspect they love the variety on offer. Up to their shoulders in rush and other plant life, I’ve watched them stripping young willow and munching on the tall valerian flowers growing thick and fast. Just like us, they like variety and I’m sure that they’ll be all the healthier for it. Best of all, their actions help to create balance and will ensure that the area gets better over time.

The area provides great habitat for the water voles and field voles, and therefore a perfect hunting ground for our barn owls who I’ve spotted over the area at dusk. On the flora side, the marshy grassland is acidic and therefore home to a number of acid loving plants. Having a good walk around with the cows over the weekend was fabulous, with such a variety of flowers on show including Common Spotted Orchid, Tormentil, Marsh Cinquefoil, Birds Foot Trefoil, Valerian, Ragged Robin, Cross Leaved Heath, Fox Glove, Thistle, Bog Cotton, Forget-Me-Not, Marsh Bed Straw and Thistles plus Marsh Hair Moss, Sorrel and Lichens to add to the dominant Soft Rush. Also sprouting up is Willow and Silver Birch, which without the cattle would likely take over.


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