As usual I was out walking the dogs, when I saw one of them sniffing at something in the grass by the weir. When I looked down what did I see? An absolute monster of a Signal Crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus.
The Signal crayfish is a non-native species to the UK. It is a North American species that was introduced to the UK in the 1970s and sold to farmers looking to diversify into new markets. The crayfish escaped into the wild carrying with them the crayfish plague, this has had huge implications here in the UK. All North American species are capable of carrying crayfish plague to which European crayfish are highly susceptible.
There are six non-native species of crayfish in England and Wales. The most common species – and the one that causes the biggest problem – is the signal crayfish. This six-inch-long killing machine has already annihilated the smaller native White-Claw crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes which is now an endangered European species, by out-competing it and spreading the fatal plague. A voracious predator the Signal will eat almost anything it finds including plants, invertebrates, snails, small fish and fish eggs. It is also a cannibal that
makes a meal of its own young. The signal is often bluish-brown or reddish-brown, with very large and heavy claws that are red on the underside with a turquoise or white patch on the upper side in the joint (you can see this clearly in the photo).
The Signal also digs burrows up to three feet long in river banks where each year it lays more than 250 eggs at a time. At a time of increased flooding risk the numbers and size of the burrows is increasingly causing river banks to collapse.
So what can we do?
All non-native crayfish caught must be humanely destroyed and to catch them you must have a licence and contact the Environment Agency before doing so.
On the 26th February 2013, Bishop’s Meadow was selected as a SNCI, based on the National Vegetation Classification survey report for Bishop’s Meadow (2013) and using data collected during 2011 and 2012 by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. The reason for its selection was as follows:
‘Selected for its species rich grassland habitat supporting 17 plant species typical of grassland of conservation interest in Surrey. The site is well used by the local community.’ Read more…
Firstly I want to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who turned up last Saturday, braving the sleet and cold to help out on the meadows. We managed to get a lot done and I think it was a great start to the year. Read more…
I was out on the meadows not so long ago walking the dogs as usual, when I spied on the far side bank of the river, basking in one of the only rays of sunshine we have had this year; a red eared terrapin.
Not the usual sighting for the meadows, or in fact for the UK. However, the red eared terrapin Trechemys scripta elegans became the most popular reptile pet in the UK during the late 1980s when a group of four teenage mutant ninja turtles named after Renaissance artists where at the peak of their popularity. Read more…
The following email messages have been received from members on hearing our two latest pieces of good news, i.e. Receiving the first ever Open Spaces Society award and securing the remaining available land by way of a loan from the Farnham (Buildings Preservation) Trust.
Thank you to all who have taken the time to write. It really helps to receive these words of support. Read more…
The following has just been released to local newspapers.
Press release for Bishops Meadow Trust (BMT), F(BP)T and Sir Ray Tindl
Celebrations as Meadows bring together community interests! Read more…
Here is the news release from the Open Spaces Society:
Victory for Surrey campaigners who saved wild meadow
An ambitious community campaign to preserve a threatened 30-acre beauty spot in Farnham has been named winner of the first-ever Open Space Award. Read more…