Each year Merlindale's meadows develop further. Ever since we first decided to transform our garden into a meadow brimming with flowers we have continued to expand year on year. Merlindale is now home to three separate meadows.
Meadows perform the vital role of increasing biodiversity with the added bonus of rich vibrant colours and a beautiful place to relax. Since introducing the meadows, insect populations have skyrocketed in turn feeding birds such as Spotted flycatchers and Swallows who now thrive. At the main meadow, our Herons are becoming more active as we are leaving the marshy area to expand. Our mammal species are also thriving with a greater variety in their diet and less disturbed ground.
This was the first meadow area we ever created. Originally a piece of waste ground; full of little but stinging nettles and thistles, once transformed it was turned into a paradise full of life. The area is also now home to a bee hive, perfect for our resident beekeeper and Alex's mother Danka. Meadow favourites such as Ox Eye Daisies, Meadow Vetchling, Bird's Foot Trefoil and Greater Knapweed dominate the area providing food for numerous species of insects such as common brown butterflies and bumblebees.
Our second section of meadow provides a greater habitat diversity than its predecessor: a regularly mown park. Knapweed, St John's Wort, Wood Crane's Bill, Meadow Crane's Bill, Herb Robert and Yellow Rattle are more prominent here. With more tree cover it takes time for the plants to develop, but once they arrive the whole area is transformed. This area is home to more of the Meadow Brown butterflies and copious Chimneysweepers which rely on the Pignut - this is a spectacular sight as they provide quite the airshow.
Our third and final area (so far) is the largest project to date. An area this size has the potential to provide a home to a greater number of species than anywhere else so far. At the moment Yellow Rattle is by far the most common plant however, Melancholy Thistle and Wood Cranesbill are already starting to come through. We have also had many other plants such as dozens of marsh and northern spotted orchids growing where only solitary individuals previously escaped the grazing cows and sheep. For the first time ever, and within the first few months of the meadow being created we had sightings of common darter dragonflies, damselflies and Common Blue Butterfly due to the large amounts of Bird's Foot Trefoil (its caterpillars food plant) - this has provided further inspiration and yet another incentive for meadow expansion.
BELOW ARE SOME OF TOP HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MEADOWS SO FAR.
A regular visitor to the meadow that enjoys a spot of hunting.
The young fledglings come down to wonder the marsh for frogs.
At twilight the Hares like to venture into the Meadow Field. If spotted stillness is the key, they can be observed from a distance but if one gets too close they will dart away in a flash!