Richard Waddington's Ponds at Briston   August 2014

Crossing the bure


Last pond




Walk to the first pond

first Pond


Crossing the Bure


Oak parish boundary


Barn Owl pellets

18 members of the Aylsham Wildlife Society met on Richard Waddington's farm one bright Saturday in August.

Richard has a 600 acre farm with 2 bore holes giving him access to plentiful water for his crops. This means he is able to grow high yield crops because he is shielded from the dangers of drought.

But he is also part of a high level stewardship scheme and his care for  the wildlife and the environment is obvious, 'This land is our history', he says. 'It is who we are'. He has 38 ponds  on his farm - all different. They are virtually nitrate free because his farm is at the source of 2 rivers -the Glaven and the Bure. The water is pure and his ponds are havens for wildlife with an enviable diversity. 'The key to this is light and shelter', he says, so he grows trees on the north sides of his ponds and clears the bushes around the south. He also makes sure the mud is removed before the ponds get clogged up. Richard also has 6 metre strips of land all around the ponds for wildlife to thrive.

The first pond we saw was full of crucian carp - used as food in times gone past. The next one has masses of great crested newts. The one after is renowned for its diversity of life and then a pond which has hundreds of young swifts catching insects trapped by the trees around one side. Another one whose surface in spring is literally covered in tadpoles and so it goes on.

On our trip round we crossed the source of the river Bure and on to a rich meadow used as paddock grazing. This is not used for hay, but rather has 3 types of Rye grass - all grazing strains and all peaking at different times to keepthe cattle in food. Further on is a wild flower meadow which appaently has huge numbers of orchids and which is grazed by horses and cut later in the year.

Richard has also kept his cattle droves - still ideal for driving cattle, a wider one more appropriate for sheep, and still relevent in this day and age. He also showed us barns where Barn Owls live in specially put up boxes, and where Little Owls live nearby in the Oak trees. These trees we could see were in line and in the past marked thje parish boundary between Melton Constable and Briston. All around the farm can be seen strips of wildlife meadow on places not particularly suitable for machinery.

And all this after a drive on the tractor and trailer, and a most fantastic picnic en route. Richards love of the land and for his generosity with his time and enthusiasm is to be applauded. A thoroughly enjoyable day on which we learnt so much. Thank you Richard

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