Baron's Haugh has really burst in to life over the past month as we move into summer. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in our meadows where we have seen our work over the past couple of years begin to bear fruit (or flowers as the case may be...). These meadows, located just north of the wetland, have for many years provided grazing for cattle but not much in the way of wildlife due to the lack of diversity in plant species and the dominance of only a few grasses. In September 2020 we began a project to attempt to change this by sowing a mix of native wildflowers and grasses and managing the meadows to increase the diversity of species. This work was done by our volunteers who once again proved an invaluable resource to the reserve.

After to sowing the seeds, we watched and waited, keeping our fingers crossed, and then in summer 2021..... not much change. The initial disappointment of our team was tempered by the insistence from our ecology staff that patience was required and that if we continued to manage the meadows we would see the improvement. As such the meadows were again cut, and the cuttings removed to reduced the nutrient level in the soil and make it more difficult for the dominant grasses to re-establish.

As spring 2022 began we once again began nervously watching the meadow and it was then that we noticed a change. We started seeing a plant called Yellow Rattle, one of the species we had sown in 2020, springing up through the meadows. Yellow Rattle is an extremely important plant for meadows as it is a parasite of grasses therefore creating more space for wildflowers to establish. Over April and May, more and more yellow rattle began to be seen in the meadows until we had great swathes growing across the area. Cue some celebration amongst our staff and volunteers as this is a clear sign that the work we undertook is beginning to have an effect.

  

Yellow Rattle establishing itself through our meadows (Credit: David Anderson)

With continual management of these meadows we should see more and more species begin to establish themselves with the help of the yellow rattle and ensure these meadows become havens for pollinators. Even now however the change is fantastic, a walk through the meadows always yields species of bees and butterflies that in the past would not have been present there. Why not see for yourself? We have cut a path through one of the meadows to allow easy access for visitors which gives you the opportunity to experience this wonderful habitat. Enjoy! 

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