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8 Sept 2020

Wildflower meadow walk at Balmacara

A meadow beside the sea on a sunny day, with the sun twinkling on the blue water. Tall yellow flowers grow in the foreground.
Meadows in bloom at Balmacara
June and July are the best months to enjoy a wildflower meadow walk with us at Balmacara Estate. As that wasn’t possible for many people this year, we recorded some images and have shared our video with you instead.
Join us (virtually!) for a relaxing wildflower meadow walk

Transcript

Magnificent meadows | Balmacara Estate


Plan your visit | nts.org.uk/Balmacara


For the love of Scotland | nts.org.uk

Did you know that in less than a century 97% of British wildflower meadows have been eradicated? Species-rich grassland now covers less than 1% of the UK.

Here at Balmacara Estate, thanks to the work of the crofters and with help from the Traditional Croft Management Scheme, we’re very lucky to have several hectares of species-rich grassland to enjoy across the estate.

We know that nearly 1,400 species of insects and pollinators rely on meadows for their survival. June and July are the best times to visit the meadows, when they’re a truly spectacular sight: bursting with flowers, vibrating with the sounds of a variety of pollinators and wonderful birdsong. Skylarks can often be heard singing their enthusiastic warbling song from above. Other birds that frequent the meadows through the year include snipe, reed bunting, twite and linnet. In fact, the meadows can be a birdwatcher’s delight, with 30–40 species often seen on a stroll around the Crofting and Coastline walk.

A mostly red butterfly, with purple and black spots on its wings, sits on a blue cornflower, its wings spread wide. Other tall grasses and stalks can be seen in the background.
Peacock butterfly in the meadows

Some of the many species of flora found in the meadows include tufted vetch, meadowsweet, valerian, ox-eye daisies, and greater and lesser butterfly orchid to name a few. The meadows are beautiful but functional too, as the grasses and flowers are harvested to create either silage or hay to feed the crofters’ livestock during the long winter months. Good growth means plenty of feed and not having to buy in extra. Also, species-rich fodder is more palatable for the livestock and is thought to provide better quality meat.

The National Trust for Scotland’s Traditional Croft Management Scheme supports crofters to cut the meadows late, thereby allowing wildflower seeds to be dropped, feeding birds and sowing the flowers of next year. This helps to preserve a very special and increasingly rare habitat.

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