Meadows and grasslands teeming with butterflies, alive with the sound of grasshoppers and crickets, with skylarks singing overhead and a profusion of wild flowers in spring and summer, were once commonplace in almost every parish of Norfolk. Today few people have the chance to experience just how rich and beautiful these grasslands can be and will only know the relative uniformity of improved grassland which lacks the diversity of bird, insect and plant life associated with traditional hay meadows and pastures.
The loss of more than 95% of this habitat since the 1940s means that today even small areas of wild flower-rich grassland are important, while many of the species associated with them have become rare.
Local surveys may still discover remnants of this habitat that have not yet been identified.
Have you seen…?
These species were once much more widespread in Norfolk’s countryside. If you find them they may indicate remnants of old grassland. However, be aware that these species are often included in seed mixes used on roadside verges as part of road improvement programmes and meadow recreations.
For a list of grassland indicator species click here
Why not start a simple survey today?
A good starting point is to obtain a detailed map of your local patch which you can use as a basis for selecting a survey area which is likely to hold areas of grassland or meadows.
- Remnants of old grassland are often associated with common land or former commons, earthworks, archaeological sites and old churchyards
- Glebe land (land owned by the Church) has sometimes been subject to less intensive management than surrounding farmland
- Former commons may be indicated on maps by names such as ‘The Doles’ or ‘Poor’s land’
- Former or existing heathland may well still be indicated by place names such as heath, drove or ling
- The verges of ancient lanes may be the last refuge for some of the plants once found in meadows
No specialist equipment is needed to survey meadows and grasslands, but the following may be useful:
- A laminated map of your survey area
- Waterproof notebook
- Hand lens
- Plant identification guide
- Binoculars can be helpful to separate improved and unimproved grassland from a distance.
Need some inspiration?
Discover just some of the meadow surveys people have been carrying out in Norfolk.
Would you like to tell us about your meadow survey? Click here.
Sites of Special Scientific Interests, local nature reserves or County Wildlife Sites that may contain grasslands…
You can find information on sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) and local nature reserves on the Natural England website – go to www.naturalengland.org.uk
Information on County Wildlife Sites
(CWS) is held by us.
We may also be able to provide free advice on the management and care of CWS, for more information you can contact the Wildlife Information Service by email at email@example.com
or by phone on 01603 598333.
Need help identifying that mystery plant?
Don’t rush in to rushes…
Grasslands are complex habitats and if you want to improve your observation skills to help you identify more species of grasses, sedges and rushes occurring on a site, one good way is to work alongside a more experienced botanist.
You may also wish to consider taking part in a one day workshop on grasses, sedges, rushes or other difficult plant groups. Check our events section
for details of adult workshops or guided walks.
For all your meadow surveying needs…
You may find the following books, dvds, cds and equipment helpful when carrying out a meadow survey:
Please watch this space we will be updating this section shortly.
Get the low down on Norfolk meadows
Surveying meadows – What types of grasslands can be found in Norfolk?
Surveying meadows – How do I carry out a simple habitat survey for grasslands in our parish?
Surveying meadows – What are the indicators of ‘unimproved’ grasslands?
Surveying meadows – How do I carry out a simple survey of a single grassland or meadow site?
Surveying meadows – How do I carry out repeated surveys of a grassland area to note changes?