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Hay, hay, hay, it's magic!

Posted: Monday 1st August 2016 by

Anna Jennings, Conservation Trainee for The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, shares the joys of creating new wildflower meadows at our Moseley Bog & Joys' Wood Nature Reserve.

What’s that I see? A big red tractor trundling through central Birmingham? Well, you don’t see that every day. Today must be a special day. A day for creating meadows. And not just any old meadows. Oh no, these are Coronation Meadows, specially commissioned to fulfil HRH Prince Charles’ vision to create new, flower-rich meadows in every county. This initiative is HRH's tribute to The Queen to mark the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty's Coronation.

The UK has lost over 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s – that’s nearly 7.5 million acres of wildflower meadow – and this loss continues today. But the Coronation Meadows project, funded by Biffa Award, is combatting these worrying statistics by creating magical meadows within reach of everybody.



The tractor’s arrival marked the beginning of a long and tiring, but wonderfully fun and fulfilling day at Moseley Bog & Joy's Wood Nature Reserve. We were there to strew hay. This hay arrived in the form of six green bales, which had been cut that morning from Illey Pastures, a beautiful Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to the West of Birmingham. Our task was to strew these bales over the meadows at Moseley Bog. The tractor gave us a bit of a head start though. It grabbed hold of each bale in its vice-like grip, and transported it through the tunnels of trees in Joy’s Wood. When each bale reached its final destination, the tractor bade it a fond farewell by shaking it about like an irate elephant, thus spreading the hay.

This kept us entertained for a while, but unfortunately the tractor could only do so much. Now it was our turn to get strewing. The task was daunting, but we got our heads down and grabbed handfuls of hay to sprinkle evenly, turning the brown meadows green again. The rain that had been spitting at us tauntingly now set in for good, transforming us into green monsters as the hay stuck to our wet waterproofs.

Being covered in hay enabled us to study it in detail. As hay goes, it was wonderful stuff. Packed with orchid spikes, delicate grasses, yellow rattle, knapweed and bird’s foot trefoil - yellows, pinks, purples and greens – all promising to create a wildlife spectacle in the coming summers. The meadows at Moseley Bog had been cut and harrowed in the days previously, to prepare them for the hay strewing. The meadows had been lovely this summer, with four different species of orchids, but this work will hopefully make them even better in the future, crammed full with a gorgeous array of flowers and grasses.



By the time we had finished strewing the first meadow, it was definitely lunchtime, and everyone was very much in need of a moral boost. I decided it was time for cake. Fortunately, we had some knocking around the office, so I made a quick trip back to fetch supplies. Refreshed by tea and cake, we felt terribly British and energetic. We split into teams to tackle the remaining meadows, accompanied by music blasting out from a nearby park fair. Hysteria set in about three o’clock, when we began thinking of all the song lyrics we could fit ‘hay’ into. There is a surprising amount, once you put your mind to it.

The teams reconvened to tackle the final meadow, which was strewn in record time. This may or may not have been influenced by the promise of a pint in the pub later. Walking back through the meadows, we were able to survey our handiwork, and dream about the stunning carpet of wild flowers which will be appearing in the not too distant future.

I’d like to say a huge thanks to all those staff and volunteers who helped to make the day so enjoyable and satisfying – a job well done! If you have any queries about the Coronation Meadows project, please do not hesitate to contact The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country by emailing info@bbcwildlife.org.uk.


 

The nationwide Coronation Meadows project has been supported with a grant of £1 million from Biffa Award as part of the Landfill Communities Fund. Biffa Award is a multi-million pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK (www.biffa-award.org).


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    Great account of your Hay Day Anna. Looking forward to seeing the results of all your labours. Beats planting busy lizzies.

    Thursday 4th August 2016
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Great account of your Hay Day Anna. Looking forward to seeing the results of all your labours. Beats planting busy lizzies.

Thursday 4th August 2016
by