Rawcliffe Meadows, along with the Clifton and Rawcliffe Ings, is part of the Ouse Ings floodplain to the north of the City of York.

The Flood Basin at Rawcliffe Meadows is a two hectare man-made wetland, created about 35 years ago when local flood defences were upgraded. The basin provided spoil for construction of the adjoining barrier bank, exposing the underlying laminated glacial clay. This is an ideal substrate for pond creation, and Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows, who have managed the site for over 25 years oversaw the excavation of over 15 ponds in the basin since the early 1990s. Although the larger scrapes have been excavated by machine, most of ponds have been hand-dug by volunteers. The Flood Basin ponds are situated within a mosaic of wet grassland and fen with fringing scrub. Along with the adjoining hay meadows, the basin is grazed by cattle between August and early November with a brief period of spring grazing in some years. It is managed as part of a Higher Level Stewardship agreement, with the option for maintaining high-value ponds requiring that aquatic habitats are kept in favourable ecological condition.

The site was chosen as a Flagship Pond site because of its diverse community of plants, animals and invertebrates, including uncommon and interesting species such as UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) priority species Tubular Water-dropwort Oenanthe fistulosa, as well as Bladder Sedge Carex vesicaria, Pink Water-speedwell Weevil Gymnetron villosulum and Water Vole Arvicola amphibius.

Tubular water-dropwort is a rather delicate perennial wildflower with angular hollow stems, the specific epithet fistulosa means tube-like, and lovely white or pale pink flowers, borne in small umbels. It is mainly found in boggy areas such as marshes, pond edges and fens. It doesn’t spread particularly easily to new wetland habitats, tending to prefer permanently wet soil.

Location: Yorkshire

Accessibility: Some Flagship Pond sites are accessible to the public, and some are not. If in doubt, consult maps for rights of way, look online for site information, or contact the site manager, and follow any instructions on site. It is up to you to check whether you require permission to visit and access the ponds on a site.

Site owners/managers: Owned by the Environment Agency. Managed by the Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows.