Nitten Field is owned by Gordon & Beryl Howe. It is located below their C.L. Caravan Club site at Middleton and adjacent to the footpath leading down from Middleton to Mewslade valley and beach. It can be viewed from this footpath and also from the coastal path.
Nitten Field, Mewslade 2016
We have been planting up this 3 acre field (that is classified as being part of The Vile, an ancient field system) for 15 years to create a habitat for farmland birds and insects. Conservation is not easy but the field continues to attract insects in the summer and in particular wintering birds. This year we have once again been fortunate in grants from the Sustainability Development Fund (administered by the City and County of Swansea) and The Gower Society to continue with the project. Ploughing by a local farmer, followed by cultivating, seeding and further cultivation to cover the seeds completed the planting on 16th May 2016. The seed planted was a standard Campaign Mix containing a variety of seed producing species plus 5kg of dwarf sunflowers, Moir Mix and Kings Sanctuary Mix. All including wild flowers, grasses, grains, rape, kale, linseed, sunflowers and winter cover. The two long sides have a chicory called ‘stand and deliver’ that produces a fine seed attractive to finches and reed buntings. There is also a strip of thick clover on the far side of the field. This will be a bonus for bees and other insects through the summer.
You will note the wide headlands that are covered in grasses and weeds and these are attractive to many species including grass snake, adders, slow worms, lizards as well as voles and other rodents that attract in turn owls and kestrels. This field is designed to be a plant ‘oasis’ in the area of farm land mainly covered in rye grass. Note also the mature hedges that have been reinforced with additional planting over the last 15 years.
We apply a suitable none toxic bird and hedgehog slug pellet in the newly planted areas . A couple of years ago slugs wiped out the entire crop of sun flowers. We will certainly see a large number of different insects, butterflies and bees attracted to the variety of plants on offer and these in turn will attract visiting migrant insect eating birds such as white throats, chiff-chaffs, warblers, swallows and house martins this summer.
The autumn will once again hopefully see reasonable numbers of various finches, bramblings, reed buntings, yellow hammers, house sparrows and other seed eating birds both resident and migrant over the winter period. Some are becoming rarer though and this is very worrying. Reed buntings are in particular attracted to this field with up to 150 birds present. Rare migrants have been observed in September and October in previous years when a local naturalist and ringing expert Barry Stewart has caught and ringed many hundreds of birds. He also identified about 400 different species of moth in night trapping exercises in the late summer and early autumn. He has also has identified over 150 species of plants and collectively 700 species of plants, mammals, birds, insects mosses when combined in this field.
We have plastic sheets laid around the edges of the field that attract numerous adders, grass snakes and slow worms and occasional common lizards. There are more present than you would imagine and the animals are attracted the cover and warmth under the sheets and undisturbed edges to the field.
All Seeds obtained from Kings Conservation Crops in Norfolk.
Cultivation/planting by local farmers Eirwyn Harry of West Pilton Farm and Tom Roderick of Bank Farm Scurlage.
Grants: The Sustainability Development Fund via City and County of Swansea and The Gower Society who have supported this project from the start 13 years ago and without which we could not have continued with the project. Conservation of this type is regrettably not cheap and represents a lot of hard work.
Field Owners Gordon and Beryl Howe (Mewslade@aol.com) live at Annies Stables, Middleton and are more than happy, for like minded people, to look in the field and ask us about the scheme. There are only a few similar schemes like this in Wales.