Lower Common (CL 155) is a linear stretch of common land that follows the banks of the river Bure. The common consists of short grassland, with a scattering of trees. The Coltishall Commons Management Trust have begun to create wildlife strips, allowing native wildflowers to grow, to encourage invertebrates such as bees and butterflies.
Please note this site is not a Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve.
Habitat description from the Wildlife in Common Survey
A linear stretch of common land, Lower Common includes small patches of trees and a wet ditch flowing into the river, but mostly consists of neutral grassland managed as an amenity for locals and visitors.
An area by the east boundary has some planted Norfolk heritage apple trees with spring flowering bulbs and a few garden escapees. The longer grass here includes a water-side area of marshy grassland / marginal species.
The wet ditch in the west of the site has some taller growth such as great willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum
), angelica (Angelica archangelica
), reed grasses and nettle (Urtica dioica
). An area near the ditch has recently been managed for wildflowers with some sown species. In the past the ditch has been cleared and the silt placed on the bank, this means there is an increase in nutrients in this area, which means more robust plants such as nettle outgrow any more delicate wildflowers here.
The grassland across the rest of the site is kept short mown. In summer 2019 a strip along the roadside was left to grow as a wildflower area.
Approximately 40 species of wildflower were recorded along this strip including: yarrow (Achillea millefolium
), hairy sedge (Carex hirta
), common mouse ear (Cerastium fontanum
), buckshorn plantain (Plantago coronopus
), oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare
) and weld (Reseda luteola
Historically, the common has retained its boundaries – the river to the south, road to the north, housing to the east and the Rising Sun pub to the west - since at least the first Ordnance Survey in the late 19th century. The common also has an old boathouse which is shown on the old maps, showing the common to have been used for recreation over many years.
Fadens Map of Norfolk c.1797 shows that the area of the present day common was already established between the road and the river, but it does not seem to be registered common at this time.
Further detail on other historic maps show it to have been kept as rough pasture in the late 19th century, with footbridges shown, giving access over the dyke and across to the boathouse on the 1907 map. A photo of Lower Common c.1930, from the Francis Frith collection, shows a very similar linear area of mown grassland along the edge of the river with small boats moored alongside, and people enjoying the green space for recreation.