The placement of a herd of goats next to the park & ride site on Hunts Ground Road behind Bristol Parkway Station has brought joy to many members of the local community since January 2018. Members of the public have enjoyed seeing them grow, taking them food and seeing them return after they went to Goblin Combe (by Bristol Airport) during spring.
The goats have made a huge impact on the grassland by clearing the brambles and encouraging wildlife to flourish. The goats were initially introduced as part of a project to increase the population of the small blue butterfly, an insect which has been declining over recent years and is classified as a ‘priority species’ in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. This species of butterfly feeds solely on a wildflower called kidney vetch which grows at the site near the car park. With the goats clearing the brambles and shrubs, this makes way for more kidney vetch to grow which will then hopefully increase the numbers of small blue butterflies.
Sally Pattison, who has been working on this project, said:
“From a wildlife point of view I want the goats to eat as much as possible and help restore the site to special wildflower-rich grassland. The kidney vetch is the all-important plant and I planted 150 plug plants of this with some volunteers last month within special fenced areas. The kidney vetch is the only overwintering site of the rare small blue butterfly and by working with national charities Buglife and Butterfly Conservation we are hoping to get the habitat condition just right.”
Over the last few months the number of goats at the site near Parkway has changed as new goats have arrived and others have left to go and graze elsewhere or were taken away to be used for their meat. The female goat, Betty, and the kids went out to Goblin Combe when four billies came back to the site in September. In November, one billy went to Grimsbury Farm and the other three were used for their meat. That has left the two youngest billies at the site to continue grazing.
Carol Laslett, who helps look after the goats, said:
“The big goats and the number of goats have really made a good impact on the site this year. There are now two billies left at the site – how long they stay will depend on what food is left for them!”
The crucial time for the kidney vetch wildflowers to grow is February through to August so the remaining goats will definitely have been removed by the end of January 2019. If you haven’t yet seen the goats and would like to, make sure you pay them a visit soon! But don’t worry if you don’t get a chance, the plan is for more goats to be brought to the site sometime next year when the brambles have all grown back and need clearing again.
Location map: Goats at Parkway (The Journal)
This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal news magazine (on page 10). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
Two young kids joined the two billies at the end of November and were expected to be at the site for four to six weeks.