Landscapes contain a mosaic of habitats all of which have varying degrees of interconnectedness we aim to explore these habitats and reveal the species that are associated with them.
Britain from the air is a very green country with fields of all sizes for grazing animals and crops but what you rarely see is the more natural grassland types. Whilst even our special grasslands are a product of centuries of management rather than broad scale natural processes they are never the less both special from a landscape and wildlife perspective.
These grasslands are associated with the uplands and where the mosaics of habitats combine to provide a range of conditions for a suite of wildlife including important breeding wader populations.
These grasslands occur where the underlying geology is dominated by limestone. Calcareous grassland is often rich in flower species and invertebrates such as the Northern Brown Argus butterfly are dependent on these herb rich grasslands. Again mosaics of habitats create multiple opportunities for a range of species and the large scale grasslands of some of the karst landscapes can look wonderful on a warm summer’s day.
These grasslands are rare with over 94% of our meadows having been lost in the last 50 years. Flower rich meadows were used for hay production until the advent of fertilizers and different farming methods such as making silage. Some lowland meadows have survived and some restoration and even creation are taking place and where these exist there is no doubt that there is a greater diversity of wildlife.
Upland hay meadows
As with the lowland meadows agricultural changes have massively reduced the number of upland hay meadows. The restoration and maintenance of the remaining meadows has been taking place in areas such as the Yorkshire Dales, North Pennines and Forest of Bowland as well as other places. Upland hay meadows in June are an impressive sight to behold and are well worth a closer look.
Floodplain grazing marsh
Unsurprisingly this type of grassland has become increasingly rare as technology has allowed more and more areas of land to be drained and agricultural practices have changed. Despite this there are still some great areas of grazing marsh habitat and landscape to explore from coastal areas to river corridors and the wildlife associated with these areas can be spectacular especially in terms of the numbers of wintering wildfowl.
View Available Grassland Guided Tours