Frankland Field is a nature reserve managed by Chelmsford City Council with the help of local volunteers. It is situated south of Ormesby Chine between Fenn Creek and Marsh Farm Road. The main access is opposite the entrance to Marsh Farm Country Park.
The fields were part of the historic coastal grazing marshes although by the 19th Century they were used for arable farmland. With the land taken out of farming it has developed as grassland. Lack of appropriate management however resulted in the grassland becoming dominated by tall grasses which shaded out many of the flowering plants and allowed hawthorn and other shrubs to establish. Since 2003 the site has been managed to try to restore the quality of the grassland to allow typical grazing marsh species, such as grass vetchling, to re-establish. In the summer it is possible to see uncommon species such as the Marbled White butterfly and the striking Wasp Spider.
As well as the grassland there are areas of scrub and young woodland. Scrub, which is made up of species such as hawthorn and dog rose, is important for wildlife as it provides food and nesting for birds and small mammals; however if left it will spread across the grassland reducing much of its wildlife value. We need therefore to try to maintain a balance between the scrub and grassland on the site.
The grass areas are normally cut in the autumn once the flowers have set seed and the cut vegetation is cleared – this reduces the soil fertility and prevents a build-up of dead vegetation which helps the wildflowers. Some areas are being cut more often to help control some of the more vigorous species. Some areas are left uncut to provide long grass for over wintering animals.
The volunteers meet on the 3rd Thursday of the month between 10a.m. and 1p.m. The main jobs that the volunteers can help with is managing areas of scrub in the winter, grassland management in the summer and maintaining the paths around the site.
It's not all work, other events have included a visit from the Bumble Bee Trust where volunteers took part in a survey of the prevalence and varieties of bumble bees in the area.