The Martello fields are a valuable green space near the sea front towards Splash Point. A great place for events from fairs, boot fairs, charity days and sporting events. It’s also an informal space for dog walking, family picnics, meet ups, dog training and fitness training. If you walk around today, you might spot a bit of rainbow (eco friendly) confetti. This is the only remaining sign of the wonderful Seahaven Pride event last weekend which brought a bit of colour to a dull year.
Just because it’s a recreational space for people, doesn’t mean that it can’t also benefit wildlife, and improve diversity in our town. All these green spaces can join up to create wildlife pathways. Did you know that when the field is mowed in Spring, the rotting hay left behind is quickly removed by the precious colony of kittiwakes, to make their precarious nests on the cliffs?
Last year when lockdown came, and the mowers fell silent and all events stopped, blue butterflies, appeared on bird’s foot trefoil among the grass. Last May some local residents did a survey of wild flowers in the fields, and counted 29 species of flower.
Since then, the “On the Verge” group has taken on the baton, to improve diversity in our verges, gardens and communal green spaces. Last week we rounded up an enthusiastic group of volunteers and met in the middle field to do another survey. Led by ecologist Sarah, we were delighted to find 35 species. Though after several hours we only got half way round one of the two fields! There are more areas still to be counted, and the steep banks to the south will almost certainly have a different range of flora.
Surveying the field with other enthusiasts and experts was good fun, fascinating and I learnt a lot. For example did you know you could distinguish red and white clover, when not in flower from the patterning on the leaves?
I was introduced to Good King Henry, and finally learned what that tiny pink flower was (Small Flowered Cranesbill).
I found out that the “docks” I have been battling with in my coastal garden, are actually Sea Beet, distinctive by their fleshy leaves.
There are lots more surveys going on throughout Seaford, all help and support would be very welcome. We would also love to know what wild flowers you have spotted in your verge or local green spaces, and your ideas for better use of green spaces. We will be meeting to review results and see if we can work towards better management of some of the spaces. For example, perhaps we need to remove more invasive wild flowers like bristly ox-tongue so that children can play on grassed areas. Do we need to add wild flower plugs and mow paths through designated wild flower areas that are currently unsightly and lacking diversity.
Do get in touch, or better still come and talk to us. We will be at the Martello Field on Sunday at the “Support our Seaford charities” event. We would love to see you there, in one of our precious green spaces!