National Meadows Day 2017; January Birds.

Isabel has kindly just passed on confirmation that National Meadows Day will again take place this year on the first weekend of July. I’m including the press release below from the organisers for everyone to read, and hopefully Carmarthenshire will again have an event or two to promote Meadows Day locally. We held an open day last year at Gelli Uchaf which was great fun and very successful and hope to repeat this again this year. So do make a note in your diaries, and start to think about possible events which could take place in the county, or which you could visit.img_8185

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              Do you want to be part of National Meadows Day 2017?

National Meadows Day is a growing event which celebrates wildflower grasslands, providing an opportunity for you to showcase the amazing wildflowers and species you have on your sites and in your communities. Feedback from last year showed that many people attending events were surprised by the diversity of the flora and sheer number of insects and reptiles found in the meadows they visited. This really reinforced the importance of meadow preservation, and of the role of the National Meadows Day events in educating the public about this important habitat that is fast disappearing.           

                          The date for 2017 is Saturday 1st July

All you need to do is plan a fun activity/event for that day and brand it as “National Meadows Day” and let us know so that we can promote it on our website (see table below).

        Here are some examples of what worked really well last year:

  • Family fun days and open days – with children’s activities such as mini-beast hunting or arts and crafts tables taking place at the events, dressing up as bugs was also fun for children.
  • Guided walks were also a popular choice as these allowed visitors to look around the meadows and sites and gain first-hand experience within the meadows.  Landowners and communities can also showcase their hard work and the beautiful species native to their area.
  • Wildflower, butterfly, bee identification days.
  • Hands on activities were very popular amongst visitors such as bug and reptile hunting activities as well as moth trapping.
  • Other hands on activities could include scything, dry stone walling, fencing, painting and drawing which all help to demonstrate the cultural and historical importance of meadows.SDIM8358 (2)

Background

The first National Meadows Day was held on 4th July 2015, as part of Save Our Magnificent Meadows, the UK’s largest partnership project transforming the fortunes of vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife.  In 2016 over 100 events took place across the UK!

We are keen to grow this event nationally to put National Meadows Day firmly on the map (and into people’s event diaries).  The intention is that National Meadows Day becomes an annual event taking place on the first Saturday of July every year (Sunday is fine too).  Our vision is for people to celebrate National Meadows Day in their own city, village, parish, wildlife reserve, allotment or farm all over the UK.

We are now planning for 2017 to make these events more widespread and we would love your help.SDIM8362 (2)

 

What you would need to do:

  • Organise your event.  There are some really good tips on how to run an event at this link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/can-do-guide-for-organisers-of-voluntary-events/the-can-do-guide-to-organising-and-running-voluntary-and-community-events

 

  • Promote your event locally:
    • see top tips in link above – the key is to start early
    • Use press release template sent from Magnificent Meadows
    • Use #NationalMeadowsDay for twitter
  • Fill out a brief evaluation form for us at the end of the event so that we can see how many people attended and see if there is anything we can improve for next year.

 

SDIM7662 (2)

Plantlife will carry out the following:

  • Enter all your events up on the Magnificent Meadows “what on” section (see table below)
  • Cover the national media work with a national press release and features for long lead publications.
  • Promote National Meadows Day in our Plantlife Magazine
  • Run a social media campaign primarily through the Magnificent Meadows Facebook page, for you to link to (please link to the “what’s on” section of the MM website).
  • Provide you with a pack for your stand, you can choose from:
  • Poster template for promotion of the day
  • A press release template for local use which we will send out to you by the end of April.
  • Key messages for National Meadows Day publicity & for use on your stand
  • Family resources to use on the day
  • For reference – a list of helpful advice and guidance sections for landowners/communities on the Magnificent Meadows website.
  • How to create a mini-meadows poster (pdf) for your stand
  • Access to beautiful photos of meadows and bugs for use on your stand only.
  • Send you a brief evaluation form to fill out at the end of the event.

For more information about National Meadows Day or Save Our Magnificent Meadows please contact Fiona Perez at Plantlife at fiona.perez@plantlife.org.uk or 01722 342730.IMG_8194

 

We strongly recommend you send us information about your event to put up on the Magnificent Meadows website – this way we can refer to all the different events taking place in our national media work and increase the impact of the day.

 

Please send us the following information:

Title of event
Date ( format – 1st July 2017)
Time (from)
Time (to)
Location (name of site)
Post code
Description of event (a paragraph is about the right amount)  

 

 

 

 

Event Category:

Public event (guided walk, open day, talk)

Training event

Volunteer work party

Survey

Booking essential (Y/N)
Contact Details(name)
Contact Details (organization)
Contact Details (phone)
Contact Details (email)
Nearest Town
Grid reference
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All of the above looks forward to the time of the year when meadows are at their excitingly most vibrant. Walk into any of the county’s fabulous meadows right now, and you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between them and a less diverse more intensively managed pasture. Both will probably have quite close cropped drab vegetation.p1010771-2

I’ve just finished reading “The Running Hare – The Secret Life of Farmland”, by John Lewis-Stempel. I’d previously read, and can thoroughly recommend his earlier book “Meadowland – The Private Life of an English Field”.  The author lives right on the Herefordshire – Welsh border, and there is much of interest for meadow owners in both these beautifully written books.

But what struck me most was the brief preface to The Running Hare, which is really the story of the huge benefits of traditional management of a small arable field to wildlife, over the more conventional intensive arable management common in much of eastern Herefordshire ( and indeed much of the rest of the UK). Lewis-Stempel writes that Eastern Herefordshire, whilst still scenically beautiful, is now devoid of nearly all bird life. He blames farmers, politicians and yes, consumers for this sorry state of affairs, all of us in fact. p1010417-2

The closing line in the preface reads …“Really. I just want the birds back” .p1010055-2

I’m not very good at bird identification, but aided by a long awaited camera upgrade, I’m now able to pick out some features of our local birds, not visible to my eyesight. But also increasingly aware of how diverse and numerous the bird populations still are around here. And of course in large part this is because of how the land is still managed in the county. So my New Year resolution is to spend more time just looking and observing what is flying over, or visiting our meadows.p1000005-2

In particular, can I suggest a quiet walk around a meadow just as the light is fading at dusk, or even at dawn – though this is more of a struggle for me to manage. There might not be too much in the way of human commuting going on around us, but there are certainly distinct avian commutes, and all of the images in this piece are from the first few days of January.p1000168-2

In particular I’ve taken to standing stock still next to one of our “hay yurts” in our lower wet meadows, as the light fades.

Waiting. p1010517-2The starlings have all flown West overhead to roost up on the mountain.p1010171-2 The crescent moon is rising in the Southern sky. p1010266-2Then at 4.50 pm a dark raptor like silhouette flies a similar line, out of the woods to my left and low across the meadow (most nights).p1010232-2p1010683-2

Flap, Flap, Flap, Glide. Is it a Buzzard?p1010682-2p1010681-2 Is it a Goshawk, which we have around here? I’m sure it’s not a Sparrowhawk.p1010232-2p1010230-2 (Suggestions welcome from experienced birders please.) Click here for a very useful British Trust For Ornithology video guide to distinguishing Goshawks and Sparrowhawks.

And then the real treat. Just as I’m starting to feel chilly, and the light is fading so much that I think no camera will be able to pick anything up, let alone a fast flying bird, the Woodcock (single or a pair) appear, flying a different but constant North South route from the scrubby wet woodland lower down the valley, and up along the line of our hedgerow towards the direction of our upper pond.p1010326-2p1010276-2p1010275-2 Amazingly the camera captured this distinctive silhouette, at 60 yards in dim light, flying as fast and straight as a pigeon.p1010274-2p1010352-2 The distinctive beak a giveaway for identification, along with the straight flight unlike the zig zag of a snipe. Whether these are Welsh Woodcock or immigrants from Russia, I’m not sure, but if you’d like to learn more about these secretive birds, try clicking here

And here, about how they can carry their young in flight. In all sorts of ways!woodcock-with-young

And here for their distinctive courtship flight called roding.p1010334-2p1010333-2

You might even decide to sponsor and track a named and tagged bird. Maybe “Olwen” tagged in West Wales in 2013 would be the most appropriate choice? Currently she seems to be hunkered down in Lincolnshire. Click here.p1010331-2

Fortunately, for now, Carmarthenshire’s birds seem in better fettle than those over the border.p1010327-2

So if you go down to your inactive, sleeping, winter meadow tonight, you never know what you might find.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

5 thoughts on “National Meadows Day 2017; January Birds.

  1. Brecon Beacons National Park wardens have emailed to say they will support me in the event of taking part in the National Meadows open day if I will take part- I was delighted to be offered this (I opened for LEAF 2 years ago) so I have the form and will send it off. I plan guided walks, pond dipping and if not raining an insect activity such as sweep netting if I have someone able to interpret them for the visitors. Also a talk/display on the historical aspect of the meadows as part of my traditional farm and its geology. I would love help from insect experts, botanists and anyone who would like to help.

    Like

  2. I came across the GWCT the other day and am confused by this organisation – I had previously signed the petition opposing the shooting of Woodcock, Snipe and Golden Plover, but have read on their website they disagree and suggest research is the way forward. I am also against the game industry. More and more lately I find trying to cut through and balance the arguments is harder. I am with Lewis-Sempel. On our walks we notice so few birds now wherever we are, less insects.
    We need more people like you and Fiona, your meadows project is a wonderful.

    Like

    • Thanks Julie, I was perplexed by the GWCT too. I read a bit more after your comment and see it was founded by Major Eley who had a 12 bore cartridge making business, and in the 1930’s founded a research centre to look into strongylosis in Grey partridge. I’m completely against shooting these rarer birds – I do have to own up to having a go at magpies with an air rifle in the past since they seem real pests of songbirds round here, but with little success, but Snipe Golden Plover and Woodcock really seem too scarce, besides which there’s very little meat on them so why bother?
      Best wishes
      Julian

      Liked by 1 person

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