Tree Creeper  

26th Apr 2017 by admin  

We have a new record, for the Reserve, of a tree creeper — photos and sighting by recording co-ordinator Rose Battye.  (All the photos mentioned in this item are on the top row at the foot of the page.) 

Also, an ID by Adrian Chalkley of more pond-life — photo, on the right, by Jools.  This is an early instar (i.e. young) larva of a lesser diving beetle — probably one of the Ilybius species, so not a great diving beetle, just one of dozens of smaller swimming diving beetles.  Most larvae can only be identified to family level.


Water Fleas

23rd Apr 2017 by admin

Adrian Chalkley, Suffolk County Recorder writes,

"Freshwater Invertebrates, attended our open day on 1st April and took some pondlife specimens home for identification down the microscope.  Shown (in the second row at the foot of the page, left to right) are the results: Acroperus harpae (two images), Chydorus sphaericus and Simocephalus vetulus.  The photos are all taken through my microscope, and the water fleas are between 0.4 and 0.8 mm across.

"Nothing rare here — in fact Chydorus sphaericus and Simocephalus vetulus are two of the commonest species in Suffolk. The other, Acroperus harpae, is an infrequent find in the county, but too few records exist to draw conclusions from this — though it’s a useful record.

"One of the identifying features of Acroperus harpae is the presence of lines of groups of tiny bristles called squamae along the post abdomen (shown by the blue arrow, the post-abdomen having been extracted from inside the body of the water flea)."

Adrian Chalkley


Cattle at the reserve

12th Apr 2017 by admin

Rare Breed English White Cattle

Cattle grazing 2016-17 for traditional Suffolk meadowland enhancement at Simpson’s Fromus Reserve

The Trust’s objective at Simpson’s Fromus Reserve is to enhance the floral richness of these ancient meadows.  Since February 2008, the Reserve has been entered in organic environmental stewardship.  The first rule of management, of course, is no artificial fertilizers or herbicides.  The second is to keep the sward-height low, to allow sunlight and rain to penetrate to the broadleaf flowering plants that we wish to encourage.  The specified targets are 5-15 cm height in April to May, unless the field is conserved for hay or silage, and the same at the end of the growing season in November.

In past years, the whole Reserve has been closed in Spring for hay or silage, which has been harvested after 30th June, and the aftermath growth reduced by grazing.  From 2013 until 2015, local farmers have taken the grass harvest and brought in their cattle  for the autumn months — but things change, and in 2016 we could find no local cattle-owners who wanted the grass-harvest or grazing, nor a market for our organic hay.  As a trial, we decided to change to an all-grazing system and brought in the Trust’s small herd of six British White cows and heifers, previously housed at Sinfield Nature Conservation Trust’s White House Farm, Hasketon.  The Soil Association rules (for organic status) allow unlimited grazing by this rare breed.

Looked after by local farmer Philip Baskett, and registered with a local veterinarian, these beautiful animals have done a good job in bringing down the tall grass.  The reserve was already divided into three grazing units, around which the cattle have been rotated.

There have been other consequences.  Over the wetter winter months,  gateways have become muddy passages, and hoof-prints have indented the soil.  While challenging, in places, for the human walker, the effect will provide diversity in the habitat for small plants and invertebrate animals, and may bring to life long-dormant seeds of ancient meadow flora.  Cattle dung will attract coprophagous creatures, and increase habitat diversity for plants and fungi.

Guardians and other visitors will find these cattle docile and friendly.  There are three grazing compartments, and you can check beforehand where they will be.  If you ignore them, they will ignore you.  If you want a nosey cuddle, please bring carrots or apples, and you’ll have friends for life!  You can always push them gently out of the way if they are too intrusive and, once they appreciate you have no more eatables, they will lose interest.

We shall assess the results carefully during the Summer of 2017, and apply our observations to conservation planning for next year.  Meanwhile, two cows and three heifers have been served by artificial insemination, so we hope for autumn calves …

… and, finally, don't forget to watch Cow – the moo-vie!


Open day at Fromus Valley, 1st April

9th Apr 2017 by admin

No Fooling!

It might have been April 1st, but there were no pranks. The sun shone down on a glorious Open Day to inspire you for our freshwater habitat competitions. If you couldn’t make it, you can read back in the Seasonal Diary on the website for some highlights and read on, here, to see what you missed!

Firstly, Adrian Chalkley showed us what he had found by pond-dipping. His specimen tank was teeming with invertebrate life:



At 11:00, Lord Cranbrook led a tour of the river Fromus, the long pond and the round pond for budding environmentalists and aspiring poets.


As the unmissable obvious highlight of the reserve, visitors then encountered John Rainer “Mound Man” on the medieval earthwork, taking us back in time to the Bigod deer hunts.



As you wandered around, the floral delights to particularly notice were the blackthorn blossom and the banks of yellow primroses. Ground ivy is present and the clumps of bluebells are spreading.


Then you were free to roam the reserve and absorb the quiet beauty of the gorge, listen to the birds, and say hello to our friendly cows (they love carrots and apples if you happen to be visiting!)


"Pond dipping as art" — but is it art?

4th Apr 2017 by admin

Watch the video here!


Aquatic environmental essay inspiration

3rd Apr 2017 by admin

Pond Dipping

At our Open Day on 1st April, we were thinking about the aquatic environment.  We are not only hoping to inspire poets to enter our poetry competition, but also budding environmentalists at school to enter our essay competition.  With that in mind, Adrian Chalkley – the Suffolk County Recorder of Freshwater Invertebrates – was pond-dipping at the long and round ponds, and he found some lovely beasties!

There were dragonfly larvae, innumerable water fleas and a water snail, may-fly larvae and some interesting partially parasitic mites.  They lay their eggs on the back of another larva that will eventually fly – and when they do, the mite eggs get transported to drop off into a new place.

The interesting Victorian back-story of the caddis fly larva had us intrigued.  The caddis-fly larva has a sticky glue secreting gland under its “chin”.  It picks up small bits of bark and other plant material which it sticks together — as in the row of pictures below — to form a protective tube.  Victorian gentleman-scientists would add tiny gemstones to a tank containing caddis-fly larvae, which would pick up the stones to make their little tube in the absence of any other material.  Victorian ladies would then kill the caddis fly using alcohol, and turn the gemstone-tube into jewellery.

Are you inspired to learn more?  Would you like to enter an essay competition about these rarely seen invertebrates, quietly living out their perilous lives under the water?  If they survive they may fly for a day of mating before dying!  Well, you can enter our …  


Local children are invited to enter an essay competition for 2018.  Two classes: Junior (age 11 or under), and Senior (age 12 or upwards). Prizes of £50 for the winning entry in each class.

A 500 word essay concerning ‘Wildlife and Water’, inspired by the Fromus river, or the ponds on the reserve, the aquatic environment and its life-enhancing qualities.  Entries to be submitted between 1st October and 1st November 2017.  Winning entries (both Junior and Senior) will be published in the 2018 book in the Adult Education Series published by the Suffolk Flora Preservation Trust on the general subject of the Trust’s Reserves.

For details of location and access policy to our reserves, please visit the Open Days page.  N.B.: Visiting children aged 16 or under must each be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Become a Guardian so that you and your child/grandchild can visit, and get inspiration whenever you like — or wait until our next Open Day on Saturday 16th September.


Poetry Inspiration of the Fromus — video

2nd Apr 2017 by admin

If you were able to visit our Fromus Valley reserve yesterday, hopefully you will have been inspired by the tranquil beauty of the place, alive with spring birdsong and primroses.  If you weren’t able to make it, but would like to enter our competition, this little video of the Fromus in full flow, flowing gently downstream, might get the Muse to the door?


Poetry Competition and Open Day, 1st April  

27th Mar 2017 by admin  


Suffolk poets are invited to enter a competition for 2018

Poems concerning aquatic features and watery wildlife will be included in the 2018 book in the adult education series published by the Suffolk Flora Preservation Trust on the general subject of the Trust’s reserves.  

Foremost among the highlights is the river Fromus, which cuts a deep gorge through the length of Simpson’s Fromus Valley before flowing through Kelsale village, Saxmundham and Sternfield to join the Alde around Snape Watering.  Amid the medieval meadows of this reserve, there are also four intriguing ponds reflecting the historic use of the site, first as a monastic fishery, and later as a Duke’s deer park.  

Orchid Glade, Hasketon, has one mysterious shallow pool, much frequented by deer and other wildlife.  

Four one-page poems on these aquatic features will be published in the 2018 book. Prospective entrants should please register by email before 1st June 2017.


Subject matter: Any theme inspired by the Fromus river, or the  ponds on the reserves, the aquatic environment and its life-enhancing qualities.

— No entry fee
— A maximum of forty (40) lines plus title.,
— Any verse form acceptable.
— A limit of three poems per entrant.

— Each poem to be typed 14 pt on a separate sheet of A4 paper and submitted in duplicate with the poet’s name, postal address and email on one copy only, to the address on the Contact Us page.  Enclose SAE, if you wish your entry to be returned in due course.
— Four poems will be chosen for publication in the 2018 volume, by a team of adjudicators from the Suffolk Poetry Society.
— The adjudicators’ decisions will be final.
— A Reading of the winning poems will be held in Kelsale Village Hall in February 2018
— The Press will be notified of the winning poets and poems.
— Copyright of the poem remains with the poet, with permission to the Suffolk Flora Preservation Trust to publish any winning poems free of charge.

Open day dates at the two reserves are announced on the Trust’s website on the Upcoming Open Days page.

Guided tours of the river and ponds will be held at Simpson’s Fromus Reserve at 11 am on the first Open Day, on 1st April 2017, and at Orchid Glade at 11 am on 3rd June.