con­sid­ers June to be the per­fect month for a sum­mer stroll

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - GREEN SPACES - Wendy To­bitt

SINCE the Sec­ond World War we have lost 97% of tra­di­tional hay mead­ows in our coun­try­side; th­ese are the fields that were filled with colour­ful wild flow­ers and grasses, brim­ming with meadow but­ter­flies.

This is a ter­ri­ble fact of life caused by a com­bi­na­tion of devel­op­ment, both hous­ing and com­mer­cial, roads, and in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of agri­cul­ture.

But here in Buck­ing­hamshire the Wildlife Trust has bought and is pro­tect­ing some of the re­main­ing frag­ments of tra­di­tional hay mead­ows – and you can see them this week­end at Meadow Farm, just off the A41 be­tween Ayles­bury and Bices­ter.

From 12 to 15 June, and on 21 and 23 June, the Wildlife Trust is run­ning Open Days at Meadow Farm when vis­i­tors can go on guided walks with ex­perts to iden­tify wild flow­ers rarely seen out­side such mead­ows.

Or you can go at your own pace to just im­merse your­self in the sights, sounds and scents of the flow­ers. Bring your cam­era, artist’s kit and binoc­u­lars to make the most of this won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

The fields at Meadow Farm, which are sur­rounded by hedgerows that were ne­glected for decades and edged by the River Ray, are part of the Up­per Ray Mead­ows na­ture re­serve.

This is one of the Trust’s Living Land­scape ar­eas iden­ti­fied for its rare habi­tats, birds such as curlew and yel­lowham­mer, and rare black and brown hairstreak but­ter­flies that are at­tracted by the pro­lific black­thorn bushes in the hedgerows.

The cool weather in May held back the flow­ers so they will be reach­ing their peak by mid to late June. By the mid­dle of July the fields will be har­vested for hay, and then grazed by sheep for a few weeks. Th­ese are es­sen­tial el­e­ments of the man­age­ment of tra­di­tional hay mead­ows.

This is a great op­por­tu­nity to en­joy a spe­cial na­ture re­serve at its best; go to www.bbowt.org.uk/whats-on and find out about the Meadow Farm events.

If you would like to book a group visit at any time, please con­tact Cathie Hasler, Up­per Ray Mead­ows Living Land­scape project manager at mead­ow­farm@bbowt.org.uk

Wendy Tob­bit is the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust me­dia manager. Her col­umn ap­pears reg­u­larly

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