If you stand in the car park on Turn Moss today there is little to indicate the rich patchwork of water meadow, farmland, hedges, ponds, brooks and ditches that were once so characteristic of the Mersey floodplain. Years of landfill, repeated mowing and rolling, and selective herbicide use to create smooth amenity grassland has almost obliterated the past. Almost.
I wonder if Buxton when writing his Flora in 1849, noting the autumn crocus where Chorlton Brook flows into the Mersey, would ever have thought the delicate purple flowers would still be appearing 170 years later? Each spring, in the bank running along the old parish boundary a particularly intense azure English bluebell gives a stunning splash of colour. Within the first year of letting the grass grow on the verges and in the little field, lady’s smock, speedwell, red campion have popped up. There is meadow buttercup, hawkbit, mallow and shepherd’s purse. In Sally’s Pond field there are dragonflies, bank voles, grasshoppers and meadow brown butterflies. We have yet to survey the butterflies, and the bats, bees, spiders, moths, the lichens and the mosses, but we do know that 31 species of tree are growing on our fields. We have 12 species of principle importance for the purpose of preserving biodiversity as listed by Natural England ( NERC Act Section 41).
If we can reverse the over-management and allow a species rich native grassland to develop, an attractive habitat for wildlife, Turn Moss will connect to the neighbouring reserves at Chorlton Ees and Broad Ees Dole. By gently dissuading the dominant rye grass from the field margins we can give nature a fighting chance, and make Turn Moss a vital haven for wildlife and a precious resource for us all.
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