Grassland

Imagine walking through a meadow full of cowslips and orchids with clouds of butterflies fluttering out of the grass. Now 95% of England’s traditional hay meadows no longer exist and these were some of our richest grassland habitats for wildlife.

Many grassland areas have been ploughed up, reseeded with a single species of grass, and been sprayed with fertilizers to increase the grass growth to feed sheep and cattle. Grassland areas which are less intensively farmed can be fantastic for wildlife.

 

The types of plant that you find in a grassland will indicate the kind of soil there is there. Some of our richest grasslands are in areas of chalk and limestone but all semi-natural grasslands (ones which haven’t had a lot of fertilisers used and been reseeded) are brilliant areas to enjoy wildlife.

 

Did you know?


A single square metre of chalk grassland can have more than 30 kinds of wildflower growing in it! By counting the flowers that grow within square metre quadrats placed in the grassland botanists are able to measure how rich a grassland habitat is.


Wildlife to look out for:


Birds


Grassland offers the perfect habitat for the prey of birds, such as kestrel and barn owl so look out for them swooping down on the hunt! Listen also for the beautiful song of the skylark and get your binoculars out to spot wren, goldfinch and linnet.

 







 

Mammals


Small mammals like the field vole, harvest mouse and common and pygmy shrews make their homes in grassland, and where they are you'll surely find stoats and weasels! Keep a sharp eye for mole holes and rabbits as well! 


 

 

Plants


Grasslands are rich in flowers, offering some of the most beautiful areas in the country!


Some of the plants you can expect to see are daisy, buttercup, ox-eye daisy, red clover, yellow rattle, cowslip, green-winged orchid, marsh orchid, pyramidal orchid, common spotted orchid, meadow saxifrage, common knapweed, meadow cranebill and ragwort.


Absolutely spectacular! 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Minibeasts


Due to the rich plant life, grasslands are an important habitat for minibeasts. Many butterflies (including meadow brown, ringlet, common blue) can be seen fluttering in meadows, hear the call of grasshoppers and crickets, hunt for spiders, and see if you can find froghoppers and beetles on your minibeast search!





Activities

Have fun!! Click on the thumbnails to download the activity sheets and go wild! There's many more to be found here.




Spot it!


Turn detective and see how many you can spot!