Wednesday, 12 June 2013
A Wander Round an Ancient Hay Meadow
Last Sunday I went along to the annual opening of Monkspath Meadow - an ancient hay meadow believed to be around 800 years old. The Meadow which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest is owned by Notcutts Garden Centre and managed under the supervision of English Nature. The meadow is only open one or two weekends a year under the helpful guidance of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.
The meadow supports 150 species of flora including various grass species, commonly found in old meadows, marshland and ancient woodland.
There were far fewer species in flower this year than in the past following the trend of so many flowering plants this Spring.
Apologies that the photos aren't that sharp - it was rather windy and, in addition, Brian and David had decided to come along and as they had completed the entire circuit whilst I was still at the beginning(!), I couldn't spend as long as usual taking photos or even changing to the macro lens for some of the shots.
The star of the show are the displays of Heath Spotted Orchids (Orchis ericetorum)
The Meadows are open again this weekend and I would imagine far more of the orchids will by then be flowering.
Tormentil (Potentilla erecta)
Bugle (Ajuga reptans)
Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor)
Ribwort Plantain and a mixture of grasses
Lesser Stitchwort (Stellaria graminea)
Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)
I was thrilled to see my first Common Blue Butterfly of the year - as usual with most butterflies I see it didn't linger so a poor record shot!!
Meadow Buttercup and Germander Speedwell (Veronica chamaea)
I couldn't help thinking of Edith Holden (who wrote the Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady and Nature Notes in 1905 and 1906) as I walked round the meadow. Until the 1930's traditional hay meadows, such as this one, full of insects and butterflies, were found throughout Warwickshire and she must have walked through meadows like this every day in the summer months.
Sadly during the course of the twentieth century England and Wales have lost around 97% of their traditional haymeadows due to intensification of agriculture. New roads and housing developments have led to the loss of many other such meadows.
Apologies to any long time readers of my blog who have already "walked" round this meadow with me at least twice before. At times I do worry that my blog is very repetitive visiting the same old places and seeing the same old things year in and year out!