On June 28th The Times published: Call for urgent action to save vanishing UK meadows

Wetland meadows in particular are disappearing, but all meadows are threatened. When I was young my dad and I went birdwatching and often saw the Great Grey Shrike, but now it is virtually extinct in the UK. It feeds on small voles/mice, mayfly, dragonfly and other smaller flying creatures. A bird of prey, it keeps its food in a “larder” spiked onto sharp twigs and thorns. In Pembrokeshire we have been treating roadside verges as wild flower meadows for some years, and the effort is paying back now in flowers. But this increase in diversity has not translated into increased invertebrates on the car windscreens. To bring back the shrike we need more intensive and generalised effort.. Pembrokeshire, and now West Wales Rivers Trust (WWRT) knows that headwater bog land increase is important and Llangloffan Fen at the headwaters of the Western Cleddau is a good example. The knock on effects for bumble bees and butterflies are additional benefits. The WWRT would welcome joint projects to help wetland meadows, and ideally these would be linked to our Cleddau Trail and other educational developments in the future. Children know few flowers, bees or butterflies. and some parents are attempting a new approach: (Rosemary Bennett in the Times 28th June) Hipster parents branch out into ‘green’ learning

Image result for great grey shrike

Almost 2,000 roads in Britain contain the word “meadow” or its Welsh equivalent “dol”, but the fields they were named after are vanishing, experts warn.
Meadows have an important place in the country’s social history, with frequent place names referring to their size, such as Long Meadow, their owners or people associated with them, or wildlife, such as Badger Meadows, a study has found.
But most people living on Meadow View cannot see one, even with binoculars, according to Plantlife, the wildlife charity that conducted the research.
It labelled the loss of 97 per cent of flower meadows since the 1930s, mostly to changes in farming, as one of the biggest tragedies in the history of nature conservation.
Urgent action is needed to save vanishing meadows, their wildflowers such as ragged robin, harebell and field scabious and the wildlife they support, Plantlife said.

The sight of a summer meadow in bloom could be lost to future generations without steps to protect them, the charity added.
The call comes before National Meadows Day on Saturday, with more than 115 events across Britain in which people can learn to use a scythe, spot orchids or make a scarecrow.
The events are part of a “Save Our Magnificent Meadows” project funded primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will see 6,000 hectares (15,000 acres) of wildflower meadows created and restored.
Trevor Dines, of Plantlife, said: “Without the roar of chainsaws or the sound of mighty oaks crashing to the ground, meadows with undisturbed floral histories going back generations are being ploughed up in a single afternoon.”

Correspondence:

One thing which should have been done all along and with a will could still be done is to treat roadside verges as though they were meadows. In the days when they were maintained by a man with a hand tool they behaved just like a meadow and contained most of the flowers etc. found in meadows.
It could still be done by mowing with ‘finger’ type mowers rather than flail type at the appropriate times of the year (apart from odd bits that need to be cut more regularly for safety reasons) with no herbicides used. That would add up to a very large area of meadow like land.
DJA

Llangloffan Fen National Nature Reserve, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire …

Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Butterfly Conservation – Home

This is a personal view.