Mown desert or meadow magic

Flanders Moss NNR

Its is National Meadows Day today (see here) . Flower-rich meadows are a part of our countryside that has been lost or damaged more than nearly any other habitat. When you look across the Carse of Stirling landscape these days it is hard to imagine how it was with wildflowers packed in many of the fields and verges. Today in the UK only 2% of the wildflower-rich meadows that existed in the 1930’s remain.  Nearly 7.5 million acres of wildflower meadow have been lost so far and they are still being destroyed.  Of those that do survive, around 75% occur in small fragments and remain vulnerable to destruction.

At Flanders Moss NNR car park, when we landscaped the car park we could easily created some amenity grassland that we mowed every few weeks to keep the site neat and tidy. But instead we created a wildflower hay meadow around the car park. Over the past 5 years it has got better and better. Some of the plants have come from wildflower nursery grown plugs but much has come from wildflower seed collected by us from the surround area.

Tufted vetch

This year it is looking better than ever. Tufted vetch, meadow vetchling, red clover, meadow buttercup, yellow rattler, birds-foot trefoil and common knapweed make a striking swirl of colour as a welcome to the nature reserve. Making a meadow is a long-term project and there is still plenty to do to improve it but there is a tremendous satisfaction to be had to look at the low cost riot of flowers.

A potter wasp species ?

And it is not just important for the flowers. This week when the sun came out the whole meadow buzzed with insects. The bumble bees are the really obvious ones but a bit of time watching the comings and goings and you can pick up grasshoppers, dipteran flies, soldier beetles, spiders, silver Y moths, parasitic wasps and solitary bees. And it is also solitary bee week – these insects are far more important than the domesticated honey bees – they are native wildlife for a start but also can be in such numbers that they do more pollinating that honey bees.

Bumble bee using white clover
Bumble bee on bird foot trefoil.
A solitary bee
Silver Y moth
2 of the many flies using the flower heads

We aren’t experts in identifying all of these insects to species level so if there are any budding entomologists out there who fancy helping us draw-up a species list then please get in touch. With the meadow being next to over 2000 acres of Flanders Moss there is the chance of something interesting turning up.

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