A record of wildlife in my garden and various trips to the Warwickshire countryside and occasionally further afield.
"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
From "Auguries of Innocence"
by William Blake
Saturday, 9 June 2012
A Walk Around an Ancient Hay Meadow
Until the 1930's traditional hay meadows were found throughout Warwickshire. The meadows were cut for hay in summer and cattle would then graze on any late growth fertilizing the fields as they did so and keeping the meadows free of coarse grasses. The meadows were full of insects and butterflies. However, intensification of agriculture since the 1930's has led to traditional flower meadows being replaced by green leys and arable fields. New roads and housing developments have led to the loss of many other meadows.
Sadly, over the course of the last century England and Wales lost around 97% of their traditional hay meadows.
Fortunately, a few remnants of these flower-rich meadows still survive and this afternoon I visited Monkspath Meadow which may be 800 years old. This Meadow is a Site of Scientific Interest with 150 species of flowers and grasses recorded. It is managed by Notcutts Garden Centre under the direction of English Nature and opens for just one weekend a year under the watchful eye of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.
I did make a note of the common and scientific names of the plants as I walked round but unfortunately at some stage I managed to lose my list so if any of my plant identifications are incorrect please let me know.
The first set of photos were taken with my Olympus E-420 and the 14-42mm lens.
Pignut (Conopodium majus) Umbellifer plants always seem to be crawling with insects
Thistle and Bumble
The meadow is renowned for its superb display of Heath Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza maculata) - the colour variation in the flowers is amazing - they seemed every shade of white, pink and mauve .
This tiny yellow flower is Tormentil (Potentilla erecta)
Meadow Thistle (Cirsium dissectum) I couldn't get close enough to take decent photos of some species as they were well away from the path which had been cut through the meadow.
Great Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis)
Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) and Meadow Buttercups (Ranunculus acris) were everywhere
The delicate white flowers of Lesser Stitchwort (Stellaria graminea)
Cuckoospit was frothing on many flowers. Although it starts to appear at the same time of year as we hear cuckoos calling, it has no connection with them whatsoever. The white frothy liquid bubbles are produced by the immature nymphs of Frog-hoppers - a sap sucking insect. The cuckoo spit probably protects the nymphs from predators.
Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
The rest of the photos were taken with the 35mm f3.5 macro lens - sorry for any repetition of photos I wanted to compare the two lens so walked round the meadows twice!
Heath Spotted Orchid
Since seeing my first Tree Bumble Bee earlier this year I am now seeing them everywhere!
Thistle and Bumble
Bird's Foot Trefoil (I think?!) - has a variety of names such as Bacon and Egg and Lady's Slippers
Heath Spotted Orchids
Bugle (I think) (Ajuga reptans)
Many thanks to the lovely gentlemen from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust for all their help - sorry I didn't get your names!
For more information on Monkspath Meadow - please see my post from June 2011 entitled "An Ancient Hay Meadow" - sorry for not providing a direct link (for some unknown reason I can't get links or italics or bold on Blogger to work!).
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.