Spring meadows

Meadow Brown © Amy Lewis

Walking through a wildflower meadow is one of the quintessential experiences of an English spring, and one that many of us look forward to year on year.

In spring, a host of beautiful wildflowers are blooming, and bees and butterflies are taking advantage of the new bounty. With insects becoming increasingly abundant and breeding season in full swing, birds are also making their presence known. Goldfinches and sparrows raise their voices, adding their dulcet tones to the mix of sensory delights.

Most meadows came about through people felling forests thousands of years ago, and subsequently grazing livestock over many centuries. Meadows are a habitat maintained – and prevented from becoming something else – by the activity of humans and our livestock.

One particularly special meadow sits on a gentle hillside to the west of Pamber in North Hampshire. Ron Ward’s Meadow nature reserve belonged to its namesake, and was Ron’s most treasured possession. Ron nurtured the wildlife on his small patch of land, and gifted it to Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust when he died so his meadow could become a nature reserve.

Gifts left to us in Wills invaluable. Any donation, no matter how large or small, helps us protect and encourage the wildlife in our two counties. If you are considering leaving a gift for wildlife in your Will, you can email us at feedback@hiwwt.org.uk to find out more.

Here are some of the species that you may see at Ron Ward’s meadow, or another wildlife rich meadow near you.

Meadow buttercup

Meadow buttercup is one of our iconic buttercup species. It’s often found in meadows and pastures, but also in parks, gardens and woodland edges. It flowers between April and October, and forms yellow meadows much loved by bees and butterflies that that dazzle in the sunshine

Skylark

Male skylarks sing in flight as well as from perches such as fence posts or large rocks. Despite their aerial activities, skylarks nest on the ground, laying three to four eggs. If seen singing, the skylark is unmistakeable. A streaky brown bird with a crest, the skylark is larger, with a longer tail, than other similar birds.

Field grasshopper

Grasshoppers can be found thanks to the males’ song, created by rubbing their legs against their wings. Field grasshoppers are one of our commonest species, and their song is a brief, single chirrup, repeated at short intervals.

Meadow brown

The meadow brown is one of the commonest grassland butterflies, though whole colonies have been lost as a result of agricultural practices in recent years. They can be seen from June to September. – look out for mainly brown butterflies with washed-out orange patches on the forewings.