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This year we welcomed a new nature reserve to our growing network of sites around the UK – Three Hagges Woodmeadow in Yorkshire.
Site Manager Kara shares what the volunteers have been up to, from coppicing to nature surveys, and how you can get involved.
Volunteers have been helping to care for the woodmeadow for over 10 years. The group was founded by residents in surrounding villages joining forces to turn a 10ha arable field into the Three Hagges nature reserve that we know and love today.
We meet every Tuesday morning, rain, shine, or snow, and we do a range of practical conservation tasks to keep the woodmeadow a pleasant place for visitors and a thriving habitat for wildlife.
Tasks change from season to season but include:
This winter we are coppicing areas of Hazel and we will use the material to create dead hedges throughout the site. Last year we used the hazel to create a woven story-telling den which was great fun.
There’s always a long list of jobs to do so we never run out of tasks!
We’re lucky to have a wonderful network of volunteers who help survey and record the different species here. Volunteers regularly do moth trapping, as well as bumblebee, bird, reptile and plant surveys. This helps to understand the biodiversity this special place supports.
The woodmeadow is incredibly diverse – you may be lucky enough to come across a basking Grass Snake or see a Buzzard circling overhead as you explore Three Hagges and the pond is teeming with dragonflies and damselflies in the summer.
We can even keep track of weather conditions and water levels on site too through our recently installed weather station. None of this monitoring would be possible without the expertise and dedication of our survey volunteers.
The whole of Three Hagges Woodmeadow is incredibly special. There are surprises around every corner to enjoy, such as a bee hotel, Crombie Roundhouse (a traditional shelter made of materials found in the wood) and wildlife pond.
I love how the site changes throughout the seasons. In spring, the meadows and woodland are coming alive, with early spring flowers. Looking closely in the woodlands you can spot Violets, Wood Anemone and Stitchwort.
As summer moves closer, the wildflower meadows burst with colour and are truly breathtaking as a sea of purples and yellows take hold with species like Field Scabious, Common Knapweed and Bird’s-foot Trefoil.
There’s always something interesting to see although I must admit it is rather nice to sit on a haybale in Bodger’s Den, cup of tea and biscuit in hand, and chat through the morning’s work!”
Without the volunteers, Three Hagges Woodmeadow would simply not exist. Volunteers have worked tirelessly growing hundreds of wildflowers a year so that the meadow is bursting with colour, and cutting back vegetation from benches and interpretation boards so that the site can be enjoyed by visitors.
I would be completely lost without my team of volunteers – I couldn’t enhance and maintain Three Hagges on my own.
The volunteers are the heart and soul of the woodmeadow and they turn up, whatever the weather, to work hard, laugh hard and go home tired and happy.
If you’re interested in joining our volunteer group at Three Hagges Woodmeadow, let us know by sending us an email!
Find other volunteering opportunities here.
Plantlife and NPMS staff tested 10 popular plant identifying apps out on the field and picked 3 of the best for you to take out on your next wildflower hunt.
These days it seems there is an app for everything, including finding out what creature critter or plant you are looking at. But are they useful? Are they accurate?
We tested 10 popular apps out on the field to put them through their paces, and picked 3 of our favourites. We looked at ease of use, accuracy, costs involved and what additional features they have.
Our favourite app from the ones tested, this is free to download with no intrusive adverts or other costs involved.
The aim of the Flora Incognita research project is mapping plants, therefore they record and use the location of where the plants are found.
That means using this app is not only beneficial to your learning, but also makes an important contribution to biodiviersity monitoring and research.
This app combines traditional plant identification with the latest methods of AI. To identify, simply click on the plus symbol which takes you through your options.
Ease of use 5/5Identification skills 4/5Range of features 4/5
Claiming to be ‘the botanist in your pocket’, this app uses advanced artificial intelligence and was accurate for a wide range of species, from Sea Thrift to trickier species such as Mouse-ear Hawkweed.
Advertised as £24.99 a year, you can use the app indefinitely to identify plants without paying: when you open the app you come to a pre-home screen where you click cancel.
Other benefits include the app’s ability to identify common grasses, sedges and fungi – but we recommend some caution with these due to the cryptic nature of IDing these species. Picture This also has common questions and answers for each plant, along with stories and other interesting facts such as flowering times.
iNaturalist was created with the aims of recording your observations and sharing them with the ability to crowdsource identifications. The app is free and has a range of handy features that make uploading a breeze, including an automatic location based on the photos’ GPS tag, and the ability to record other wildlife such as insects and birds.
We found the app very accurate to a plant’s genus, a group of similar species, and sometimes even down to the specific species when multiple photos are added. This makes it the perfect tool for you to take your plant ID knowledge further with a field guide.
Seek is a simpler version of iNaturalist with an easier interface for the family. We found Seek had less accuracy in the field, so if you’re looking for something more thorough, we recommend downloading iNaturalist.
Ease of use 5/5Identification skill 5/5Range of features 4/5
Discover how you can identify the mosses where you live, and read about Lizzie's challenge to learn 10 mosses!
Grasslands like meadows and parks are not just home to wildflowers, they are also an important habitat for waxcap fungi.
Ever wondered why we need to go out and count rare plants? Meg Griffiths reflects on a summer of lichen hunting for the Natur am Byth! Project.
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