Nature in the meadow
No records are available prior to 1994 but general observations seemed to indicate a gradual deterioration in floral diversity as nutrient levels built up because grass cuttings were not removed.
There is considerable variation in the quality of the grass in different areas of the meadow, some areas having finer grasses and a greater diversity of flora than others. There are a number of indicator species of wet meadows including Water Avens, Yellow Iris, Ladies Bedstraw and Ladies Smock.
Twenty one species of grasses have been identified.
Butterfly records have been kept since 1994, typical grassland species are present with high numbers of small tortoiseshell and meadow brown. There has been a marked increase following a change in grassland management, (see Appendix 5) The presence and gradual increase in numbers of marbled whites is noteworthy.
Numbers of banded demoiselle damselflies and garden tiger moths have also been recorded.
No other insect and invertibrate records have been kept. It has recently been discovered that a population of wasp spiders is present in the meadow.
Small mammals include common and pigmy shrews, bank vole and field vole, house and field mice and common rat. Water voles have been sighted along the river. Water voles are a key species in the United Kingdom and proposed for inclusion under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. They are also included in the draft Wiltshire Biological Action Plan. Otters occasioally pass through along the river as spraint has been found on a number of occasions.
Bats recorded on a bat detector since 1986 include pipistrelle, Daubenton’s, serotine and noctule.
Sightings of grass snakes have been recorded.
Nadder Island provides a valuable nesting site for birds visiting the meadow to feed. Kingfishers are frequently seen including young, they nest and breed successfully in the vertical bank on the north side of Nadder Island. The stands of reeds along the river bank provide nesting and roosting sites for reed warblers and shelter for the shy water rail. Cetti's warbler can often be heard along the river.
Foxes, badgers and Roe deer occasionally visit the meadow and in 2007 a muntjac deer was seen.