On what was destined to be one of the hottest days of the year, 12 of us set off for Escrick near York, to visit the Three Hagge Wood Meadow project. We were greeted on arrival by Professor Dave Raffaelli and Rosalind Forbes Adam, whose family own the estate on which the project is sited. Through the introductory talk by Professor Raffaelli we learnt that the site was originally an arable field of 25 acres on which had been planted 10,000 native trees of 28 different species alongside local wild flowers, with the aim of creating a wood meadow ecosystem which could support the most diverse habitat thereby increasing biodiversity.
After being treated to morning tea/coffee and some excellent homebaked cake, Professor Raffaelli took us on a tour of the site. Some of the grassland had already been cut but this did not detract from the vista that unfolded before us. The trees that had been originally planted in 2012 were obviously doing well amongst a diverse range of wild flowers. An innovative bee hotel had been constructed by volunteers and provided a useful talking point regarding materials to be used to achieve optimum usage. However our arrival at the wildlife pond was met with gasps of delight from all as we witnessed numerous dragonflies and damselflies on the wing enjoying a glorious sunny day.
Lunch was by necessity taken here so there was maximum viewing opportunity and sightings recorded included emperor dragonfly, broad-bodied chaser, four-spotted chaser, common darter, black-tailed skimmer and common blue and blue-tailed damselflies. Butterflies were also out in force and brimstone, small and green-veined white, small tortoiseshell, ringlet, small copper, meadow brown, small skipper, gatekeeper and speckled wood were noted.. Alice recorded 72 species in flower and was particularly impressed by corn marigold, skullcap, marsh speedwell and field pansies. Buzzards were also seen as was kestrel and there were numerous goldfinches around the Visitor Centre.
This was a fascinating site and I felt so privileged to have seen it in the early years of its development. It will be interesting to return in future years and watch it evolve into something truly spectacular Thanks to Stuart and Julia for driving and a special thanks to Alice, without your 'brief encounter moment' we might never have found this gem.
See the photos here.