The meadows are yellow with creeping buttercups in the spring where many invertebrates feed on this nectar source, while the narrow strip of woodland has a wonderful show of bluebells and early woodland flowers such as pignut, sanicle, yellow archangel and the unusual pink purslane. There is a delightful but steep sided stream next to the woodland – the flash of blue from a kingfisher is always a wonderful sight here as are the beautiful demoiselle damselflies that gracefully skip the tops of the emergent vegetation or the emperor dragonflies that energetically patrol their territories.
We graze the meadows with sheep in the autumn and winter, helping to reduce the dense thatch of the grassland and ensuring that we have the best, flower-rich meadows the following spring and summer. In some years we will also take a hay crop, ensuring that we slowly reduce the nutrients of the improved meadows, thus creating better conditions for wild flowers.
Swifts and swallows can be seen zipping over the meadows in summer urgently taking small invertebrates in flight whilst the mix of deciduous and evergreen trees in the narrow woodlands means that we can see firecrest, goldcrest, treecreeper, song thrush and mistle thrush. Back along the stream we are also likely to see grey wagtails – they like to feed and nest near flowing water.
There are a few veteran oak trees in the meadows; the livestock have made good use of these wide crowned trees for shade in the past and we will plant more oaks in the future to ensure the next generation of trees. We hope to further improve the diversity of the meadows over time –as we increase the number of flowers here, we will make dramatic improvements for invertebrates and other species too.