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Ancient meadows in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire provide havens for wildlife

PUBLISHED: 11:20 19 June 2014

Meadow Farm at Upper River Ray Meadows. Photo: Colin Williams

Meadow Farm at Upper River Ray Meadows. Photo: Colin Williams

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Beyond our rivers and streams are beautiful, ancient meadows providing havens for wildlife, birds and increasingly rare plants, writes Sue Bromley

Walking through the meadows of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire is like stepping back in time. Many of Britain’s wildflower meadows have disappeared, stripped for agriculture or development, but we still have some ‘crowning glories’, including two in particular with a royal seal of approval.

Last year HRH the Prince of Wales named Moor Copse in Berkshire and Upper River Ray Meadow in Buckinghamshire as Coronation Meadows to mark HM The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. The Coronation Meadows Partnership is made up of Plantlife, The Wildlife Trusts and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, with Prince Charles as Patron of all three.

Moor Copse and Upper River Ray Meadow are now acting as ‘donor’ meadows, providing seed for the creation of new meadows at other sites in the counties. More Coronation Meadows will be created, attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators to secure our wildflower heritage for the future.

Coronation Meadows Project Manager, Dan Merrett explains: “Since the 1930s we have lost a staggering 97% of our wildflower-rich meadows and the colour and vibrancy that was once an everyday part of the rural summer is now a sight few of us ever see.

“Coronation Meadows are amongst the few remaining fragments and embody the often distinct character of each county’s grassland heritage. Through the early summer months they give an unrivalled display of brilliance and beauty, bursting with life before they are cut for hay and grazed to secure the following years’ display.”

See www.plantlife.org.uk for more ways to enjoy our native flowers; coronationmeadows.org.uk for campaign and project news.

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Visit your meadow

Moor Copse - In spring and summer the flowers provide a colourful carpet, whilst butterflies are abundant. Dragonflies and damselflies also hunt along the Pang at this time of year and the adjacent woodland provides excellent bird habitat. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a water vole, the inspiration for ‘Ratty’ in the children’s classic book ‘Wind in the Willows’.

Moor Copse is owned and managed by the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust and is just south of Tidmarsh on the A340.

www.bbowt.org.uk
www.moorcopse.org.uk

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Upper River Ray - The meadow is home to some of the most amazing flower-rich wet grasslands in lowland Britain. In summer the drier meadows are ablaze with wild flowers such as common knapweed, yellow rattle, great burnet, tubular water dropwort, meadowsweet, tufted vetch and lesser trefoil, attracting large numbers of butterflies and other insects.

Extensive flowering and fruiting hedges of blackthorn, hawthorn and crab apple also provide food and nest sites for numerous birds, while also acting as wildlife corridors for small mammals.

The meadows are four miles south-east of Bicester and managed by the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust.

www.bbowt.org.uk

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