Engaging with our local school through wildlife survey

Author: John Dugdale

Published on: 12 June 2019

In common with most country churchyards, All Saints’ in Stibbard has its fair share of wildlife.

Church burial grounds are usually quiet and peaceful places, undisturbed by noise and, with only the occasional visitor, just what birds and butterflies like. Wild flowers are particularly abundant because the land has remained undisturbed for many years, maybe centuries. It has not been cultivated or ploughed, and not ‘improved’ with the use of weedkillers or fertilisers, so wild flowers can remain with their roots intact for many years.

In 2016, our PCC was approached by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, (NWT) asking if we would like to take part in a survey of the wild flowers that were growing in our graveyard.

Three of us volunteered. We had to attend a short training course to help us identify and record correctly what we found. In total, seventy species of wild plants were recorded and nine species of butterfly. The following year 2017, NWT asked if we would like to host an open day, when the public would be invited to come and see the flora and fauna that was present among the gravestones. The NWT arranged several demonstrations in which children could take part, and guided walks identifying butterflies, insects, plants and trees. The day was a great success; warm sunny weather, refreshments were provided and almost 100 people attended.

We have now started our fourth summer of surveying, watching for any new species that might appear. Our local primary school now brings groups of children to see what they can find among the gravestones. We also have a very large ash tree in one of the boundary hedges, and we watch it carefully for signs of ash dieback disease.

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