Nature Notes with tony Drakeford: Meadow Marvels
This summer is without drought the wettest on record!
However, whatever the weather, a wildflower meadow in July is a fragrant, vibrant and colourful place to be.
The day was dull, drizzly but mild as I inched my way through lush rain-drenched grasses and an array of flowers, all in splendid profusion as a result of constant rain.
Clover, birds-foot-trefoil, ox-eye daisies, thistles, knapweed, yellow rattle, buttercups,yarrow and best of all, many spikes of bee orchids poking through the sward.
Because the day was dull, grasshoppers and bush-crickets were silent, with just the immature nymphal stages pinging about in all directions before my footfalls. However, butterflies were there. Male meadow browns that emerge a few days before females in order to establish territories, perched with open wings to absord whatever brightness they could. The species is one of few to be active in dull conditions.
Large skippers were present too, wings held in bi-plane mode quietly awaiting any meagre sunshine and choicest of all were ringlet butterflies, the size of meadow browns but sporting almost black, dark chocolate upper wings with small yellow 'olympic' rings offset by white wing fringes.
This was the same meadow where skylarks used to breed annually but had not done so for several years until this spring when we welcomed them back. All went well until they were chased away by an aggressive, uncontrolled dog causing the birds to abandon their nest.
Thus, one essential ingredient of an otherwise super-rich meadow was sadly missing.