The Lizard & Wades Pit County Wildlife Site No.211
This County Wildlife Site (CWS) covers several areas of land under different land ownership. But at its heart is The Lizard 9 Acres. This comprises acid grassland, a mix of damp fen lower hollows and dry plateaus; rich native hedgerows; riverside banks and many mature trees on the boundaries. This type of lowland meadow is one of the rarest types of habitats in Britain today as 90% has been destroyed in the last 70 years.
This meadow has recently been surveyed, and has been shown to support a long list of flora. Over 200 species were recorded, including early marsh orchids, harebells, spotted orchids, bee orchids, meadow sweet, lady’s bedstraw, and a whole range of grasses and thistles, all of which help to maintain over 20 species of butterfly and many dragonflies and insects. There are more than 40 tree and shrub species that support over 40 bird species including barn owls, which have been breeding for several years. A new addition to CWS is the meadow alongside the road, to the east of the willow tree. This land slopes down to a damp fen area so has a cross-section of meadow plants, sedges, rushes, shrubs and mature trees.
The meadow is no longer grazed so is open for public to walk on. As this is natural green space it is not kept cut short all the growing season like a park but managed for environmental gain, being cut and cleared once a year in the autumn when the flowers have set their seed. Informal paths are cut several times through the year. This is managed by the Trustees with advice from Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s conservation officers.
The other areas that make up this CWS are the farmed water-meadows and the disused railway embankment to the north. Both plots are privately and separately owned but have been surveyed for their flora worth in 2017. As the railway embankment is raised by 3 metres and has a footpath along its length it is a drier habitat, containing a good cross-section of plants, shrubs and mature trees including walnut, oak and ash that support a wide variety of birds and invertebrates. The wet pastures below, which are grazed by horses, have the River Tiffey running through and they maintain a good body of plants including marsh bedstraw, thistles, rushes, meadowsweet and marsh marigold.
To the south east is Wades Pit, a privately-owned piece of land, formerly old gravel workings that were made smaller when the A11 was constructed. This is a very different habitat with gravel, sand, flints and a large margin beside the main road that is sprayed with salt in winter, and which contains a quite different body of plants on it. It has two ponds that contain Great Crested Newts, frogs and toads and many water plants including white water lily, water soldier and amphibious bistort. To its western edge is an ancient, sunken track-way, Lizard Lane, which has signs of ancient, coppiced trees and hedgerows with fruiting trees like hazel, blackthorn, bird cherry and polypody ferns.
This compilation of species varieties across differing habitats means that The Lizard & Wades Pit County Wildlife Site is a very important part of the natural green spaces of Wymondham.
The CWS system is managed by Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Biological Information Service, Natural England, and Environment Agency.