Steven Cheshire (WWT) 2012
Two species-rich hay meadows and pasture
These picturesque traditional hay meadows are the 'creme de la creme' of remaining unimproved grassland found in Warwickshire today.
There are hints of the meadow's ancient origins as you can spot the ridge and furrow markings. They are managed traditionally as hay meadows, with their crops cut in late July and then grazed by cattle in the autumn.
What's it like to visit?
Be wowed by waves of buttercup, cowslip, meadow vetchling and yellow rattle. Twenty species of grass form a sea of tawny green with bursts of colour. Thousands of flower spikes enchant visitors every year. The southern meadow contains a wide range of plants including the inconspicuous adder’s tongue fern.
What might you spot?
Both meadows are renowned for spectacular displays of green-winged orchid, indicating the undisturbed antiquity of the site. Even rare moonwort is recorded in this meadow, its only known location in Warwickshire.
Butterflies are abundant, with small copper and common blue dancing across the meadows and along the hedgerows. On an autumn fungi foray produce an amazing list of fungi, with an impressive dozen species of waxcap alone. Other distinctive fungi include white and smokey spindles and meadow coral.
The stream is fed by spring-water helping brooklime, lesser water-parsnip and meadowsweet thrive on its margins. The hedgerows contain English elm, blackthorn and wild privet mingled with ivy and dog-rose. Occasional specimens of oak, ash and wild cherry add further diversity.
A good range of birds nest and roost in the trees and hedgerow, including nuthatch, great spotted and green woodpeckers. Redwing and fieldfare relish the reserve in winter months.
Draycote Meadow is also linked to Dunchurch Meadow, a site of just under 3ha. In summer 2014 enhancement work began with green hay spreading. The hay was harvested from the donor Draycote Meadow and was strewn on a hot summer's day by hand by a team of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust volunteers and staff.
Over 2000 plug plants were planted at Dunchurch Meadow in 2015.
Read the blog post about how work began at Dunchurch Meadows back in 2014.
Species and habitats
- Grassland, Meadow
- Adder's-tongue Fern, Green-winged Orchid, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Cowslip, Twayblade, Meadow Buttercup, Orange-tip, Nuthatch, Small Copper, Meadow Vetchling, Lesser Water Parsnip, Brooklime, Knapweed or Black Knapweed, Common Spotted orchid, Bee Orchid, Common Blue, Marbled White