considers June to be the perfect month for a summer stroll
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 email@example.com
Wendy Tobbit is the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust media manager. Her column appears regularly