What with the new lambs and fine weather we’ve been having over the last couple of weeks it really feels like spring has arrived. Today whilst walking in the Tarrell Valley near Libanus I saw some swallows and heard a cuckoo, both for the first time this year.
The National Trust is responsible for looking after a number of sites across the Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire, not only by maintaining public access, but also through our nature conservation work.
One of the habitats that is a key feature of Lanlay Meadows, in the Vale of Glamorgan, is grassland. The meadows are just beginning to come to life. The wildflowers that grow here attract a whole host of insects throughout the spring and summer- bees, butterflies and moths. Birds are nesting in the hedgerows and the mature trees are coming into leaf.
Some of the meadows are classified as neutral grassland. As spring moves into summer, look out for all sorts of hay meadow species like knapweed, Devils bit scabious and stitchworts and hawkbits as well as wood anemone and marsh marigoldsaround the field edges. In the rhos pasture (also called marshy grassland) you will find yellow flag iris and a variety of different rushes.
Now is the time of year when we see the results of all our management throughout the year. Every summer, we put a lot of effort into pulling Himalayan balsam, an invasive species that grows very quickly and colonises large areas of the meadow, especially close to the water courses, and out competes the native species. At the end of the summer the meadows are cut then ideally lightly grazed with cattle or ponies. The livestock are then removed in the winter when the ground is very wet to avoid the soil and vegetation getting poached and damaged. Over the winter is when we carry out management of the scrub to stop it encroaching onto the meadows, out competing the grasses and flowers and drying out the soil. This mainly involves cutting brambles and blackthorn on the field edges. All this work means that each spring and summer the rich biodiversity of the meadows is maintained for the value of wildlife and visitors.
We are always interested in any biodiversity records or information about all our sites, so if you are a keen recorder do let us know about anything you see!
Community Engagement Ranger