…blog by Rachel Richards, Buglife B-Lines officer. Join her for a walk through a North Yorkshire B-Lines meadow.
Celebrate this year’s National Meadows Day by learning about pollinators in England!
It’s a windy day with occasional sun and I’m climbing a gentle hill through long, swaying grass and flowers in 9 Acre Field, Richmond, North Yorkshire. The yellow of buttercups and occasional Ragwort mixes with the large bright, white, Oxeye Daisy, purples of knapweed and Selfheal and the deep pinks of Red Clover. A Buzzard calls above, Greenfinch in the hedgerow and a small flock of chittering Goldfinch fly over noisily as a dozen Meadow Brown butterflies lift and twist from the grasses ahead. Reaching the brow of the hill, low hummocks of Bird’s-foot Trefoil are alive with worker Red-tailed Bumblebee, buzzing and shaking their back legs as they push pollen down onto their laden pollen baskets.
This, is happiness, walking through a meadow full of life.
Today we celebrate meadows and the beauty and life that they hold. Some, like myself, are fortunate enough to be able to easily access and enjoy a walk in a meadow. Some have grown up as children being able to picnic, run or lie in a meadow teaming with life. To peer at a colourful burnet moth or hold a bright shiny beetle and marvel. Other have further to travel, simply don’t have the time or even know where to start.
Due to changes in farming practice, development, etc. we have lost 97% of our wildflower-rich meadows since the 1930s and, not surprisingly, this is having a particularly significant knock on effect on the invertebrates which depend on these habitats. One of the things which we at Buglife are doing to counter this habitat loss is B-Lines. B-Lines is a network of 3 kilometre-wide ‘Insect pathways’ running through our countryside and towns along which we are working with partners to create and restore a series of wildflower-rich habitat stepping stones for invertebrates. These B-lines routes were identified and mapped to find the best routes to connect habitat patches while crossing the landscape north to south and east to west. This mapping was done alongside consultation with local experts who know and understand the habitats and species on the ground. To date, along with many partners, we have restored or created over 2,500ha of wildflower rich habitat within B-Lines.
Why not visit B-Lines – Buglife to see if you are near one of our B-Lines? Perhaps you could create or restore an area for pollinators and add this to our map? It could be a mini-meadow in your garden, or village green, part of an allotment, a church yard or a larger project. Resources and guidance can be found on our website Pollinator Guidance – Buglife. These areas can then be surveyed for pollinators using FIT counts with this simple app. FIT Count app | PoMS (ukpoms.org.uk)
9 Acre Field is one of over 2000 B-Lines sites. It was created in partnership with the Richmondshire Landscapes Trust who own and manage the field. Back in 2013 they began restoring the field with support from Paul Evans, former B-Lines Manager, using Yellow Rattle plug plants. Yellow Rattle is a hemi-parasitic plant often used in meadow restoration work as it reduces the vigour of grasses, creating more space for wildflowers. The Trust then sourced local green hay, that is a seed rich hay cut and quickly transported to the receptor field, to introduce local wildflower seed from a more species-rich meadow. The meadow has a traditional hay cut from mid-July allowing time for flower seed to fall on site before hay is removed. Grazing is then timed and monitored in order to benefit the plants and invertebrates present in the field. As you will see from the photos and video, 9 Acre is now awash with wildflowers and invertebrates and an absolute joy to walk through on a summer’s day!
So today, as we celebrate National Meadows Day why not find a local meadow and take a walk. See how many species of bee, butterfly or beetle you can spot, take a photo, draw or paint a picture, write a poem or simply lie back and watch the clouds and listen to the passing pollinators, and relax.
Join Rachel for a short walk through 9 Acre Field and bring her words to life…