North Meadow, Cricklade
Highly valued by the people of Cricklade and beyond, North Meadow National Nature Reserve on the banks of the Upper Thames is a rare survival of lowland hay meadow. Few examples of this type of land use survive in Europe. As such, its management is undertaken using traditional means in order to preserve its unique character.
During the winter the meadow is often flooded by the Thames and Churn rivers. At this time many species of wading bird such as lapwing and golden plover can be seen. As the land dries out in spring, Britain's largest flowering of snakes head fritillaries begins. These are accompanied by marsh marigolds, cuckoo flowers, marsh orchids and adder's tongue ferns. Also in spring, skylarks nest among the twenty or more species of grass. Great tits, blue tits, chaffinches, linnets and tree creepers can be seen in the hedges. While on the river banks grey wagtails, reed buntings and sedge warblers, swallows, sand martins and swifts are busy.
Summer sees the spring flowers give way to greater burnet, common knapweed, meadow buttercup, yellow rattle, cowslip, meadow rue, meadowsweet, ox-eye daisy. These stand among the grass until the flowering is over to allow the seed to set before the hay is cut. The ancient 'hay lot' stones which once marked local farmers' plots can still be found. Once haymaking is over the land is open as common grazing until the following February when the land is at rest before the new hay season begins.
English Nature Competition
English Nature invite you to interpret North Meadow through photography or artwork, reflecting its changing character through the seasons.
Entry forms are available from English Nature. Follow the link below the images.
Entries are invited in the following categories:
Children: 8 yrs and under
Children: 9-15 yrs
The closing date for entries is 31st May 2005.
All images by kind permission of English Nature.
North Meadow, Cricklade. Image copyright: Stephen Davis / English Nature
Click images to enlarge