Immerse yourself in magic meadows at events near you

Friday 1st June 2012

cpt Paul Hobson

Beautiful wildflower meadows are a quintessential part of the countryside, and to walk through one is a truly uplifting way to experience some of our most diverse and wonderful wildlife.

There are very few of these beautiful and traditional habitats left in the UK but to help you experience the magic of a meadow, The Wildlife Trusts are holding a series of ‘Our Meadow Wildlife’ events across the UK on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 June.

As well as numerous bird species, meadows are home to butterflies, brown hares, grass snakes, barn owls, grasshoppers and moths.

It could be a leisurely stroll spotting wildflowers and butterflies in Surrey, to wild art and craft activities in Northampton, or a ‘mini beast safari’ in Brecknock.  There is something for everyone during the ‘Our Meadow Wildlife’ weekend.

Come and see grasshoppers in Hertfordshire, green woodpeckers in Radnorshire, or learn wildflower identification and survey techniques in Lincolnshire.  Discover hundreds of moths near Belfast, or learn about practical conservation work underway in Northumberland.

Meadows can contain up to 120 different flowering plants.  The sheer variety and abundance of grasses and flowering plants make meadows valuable for wildlife, providing a plentiful supply of nectar for bees and other invertebrates.  As well as numerous bird species, meadows are home to butterflies, brown hares, grass snakes, barn owls, grasshoppers and moths.

As well as being havens for wildlife, meadows provide a living connection with the landscapes of our past.  Shockingly, 97% of traditional lowland meadows in England and Wales have been agriculturally improved or lost since 1940.  Upland hay meadows have almost disappeared, with less than 1,000 hectares surviving today.

With our meadows disappearing at an alarming rate, The Wildlife Trusts wants to raise awareness of their plight.  The Wildlife Trusts want to encourage people to help save and restore these natural treasures by visiting and supporting the vital conservation work of their local Wildlife Trust.

Bill Oddie, Vice President of The Wildlife Trusts, said:

A meadow offers the complete sensory experience: the colours of the flowers and butterflies; the buzzing of the insects and the songs of birds; the scents and perfumes of the herbs.  They are food for thought and nourishment for the soul.

“Every wildflower belongs to a family, which is which?  Every flower has a name, how did it get it?  Was it used for medicinal purposes, and if so what? Is it lovely to look at or delightful to smell?  Have you got a favourite flower?

“Gaze at a meadow, then walk through it, then crawl, then lie down and become part of it.  Share it with the creatures that live there.  Look at them, find out their names, learn about their lives and stories.”

Look at them, find out their names, learn about their lives and stories.

Bill Oddie also describes his top three favourite meadow creatures:

1. Hares:A magic animal that can disappear and reappear before your very eyes.  Ancient people thought they were witches!”

2. Daddy long legs (crane fly): “On certain days in September the grass is suddenly alive with them, and swallows skim low to fuel up before their flights south.  They must eat hundreds, there’s not a lot of meat on a crane fly!”

3. Barn Owl: “Okay, they nest in barns, but they spend a lot of time doing their ghostly patrolling over meadows, particularly appreciated since – despite being an owl – they often fly in daylight, or at dusk or dawn.”

To find ‘Our Meadow Wildlife’ events taking place near you, visit: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/whats-on/meadows

You can also download a guide to great places to see wild flower meadows: http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildflowermeadows

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