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Pierrepont Farm
wildlife monitoring report June 2011

A count was carried on 18th June 2011 in the Wey Meadow SSSI to determine the number of Southern Marsh Orchids present and to compare the numbers with those recorded the previous year. The purpose of this is to conduct any trends over time, this survey being the second annual count for a number of years to come.

A 5000 square metre area of the meadow was measured out and marked with ranging poles to give four equal-sized areas within the 5000 square metre area. Exaclty the same area as the previous year was marked out in order to compare year with year. The number of orchid spikes in flower and having flowered was counted manually.

The results of the survey are shown in the table below.

Area Orchid count
1 20
2 29
3 46
4 19
Total 114

The count in 2011 was drastically down on 2010, when a total of 1868 orchids were counted in the same area. This does not mean, however, that something has happened to reduce the number of orchids present. The low numbers are likley to be a reflection of the weather this year, which brough flowering times on much earlier in the year, meaning that flowering time was over early for the Southern Marsh Orchid when we arrived at our usual time for carrying out the annual count.

As usual, cattle have not been put in the meadow whilst the orchids are producing flower spikes. It remains to be seen what count we have next year, to be carried out at the same time and area as this year and years to come, to determine if there is any deterioration in numbers, or any increase. Should numbers continue to be low, then it will become necessary to look at the conservation measures being carried out in the meadow (this comprises conservation-grazing only, at present.)