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One Horse Field is a beautiful wildflower meadow, we have been managing the site since 2005 to encourage a greater diversity of meadow flowers and grassland wildlife. Look out for the spectacular Wasp Spider between July and October in the long grass where they spin their intricate webs (we keep the paths mown so you can avoid the insects if you prefer!). Later in the summer look for the delicate spiral of white flowers which is the Autumn Ladies Tresses orchid. In the summer the meadow is alive with darting dragonflies and butterflies. We have installed hand-carved seating so you can rest your weary feet for a moment and let the wildlife come to you. The meadow is around two hectares and includes semi-improved and herb-rich grassland with mature hedgerows and scrub. Part of the site is designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and is adjacent to a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The grassland was part of a larger farm which has a grazing history back to the eighteenth century.
Conservation and Management
Each Autumn we mow a section of the field and remove the clippings, this is essential to encourage a greater diversity of wild flowers. We cut a different section of the field each year on rotation to encourage a greater variety of habitats. Our slow worm refuge has been built to house a large existing population but is also useful for re-homing displaced and rescued individuals from elsewhere. If left alone the grassland would disappear, replaced by scrub trees and bracken. Each year we maintain the current extent of the scrubby area by removing encroaching saplings. We remove and stack an area of bracken which has been invading the field increasingly each year. We mow the paths during the summer to keep them clear and encourage exploring of the field.
Latest – Gift to Nature have been awarded a grant from the West Wight Landscape Partnership to further improve the meadow and install some new seating.
We are working with the local school and Eccleston George, so far some beautiful nut shell seats have been crafted.
These make fascinating mini-beast ponds after rain so take your ID book along and delve into the temporary ponds. More work is on it’s way, so keep an eye on our news pages or pop down to the site to see how we are progressing.
Eccelston George have been working with a local primary school and the Isle fo Wight College and have now installed a sculpture seat, creating a wonderful focal point under the shade of the trees.
Image courtesy of Eccleston Geaorge
Above you can see our Jubilee Celebration, offering bug hunting and flag making.
Where is One Horse Field?
One Horse Field in Totland can be found between Hurst Point View and Fort Warden in Totland.
By car from Newport follow signs for Yarmouth via Forest Road (A3054). At Yarmouth remain on the A3054. At the roundabout in Totland take the third exit into Hurst Point View. Follow the road down to a gravel car park on left, One Horse Field is behind the car park beside the recreation grounds.
By bus, the nearest stops are the Avenue or Coastguard Cottages, head down Hurst Point View towards Fort Warden Heights, find the Meadow on the left beside the recreation ground.
PO39 0AG SZ324873
What can you see?
The unimproved grassland is dominated by crested dog’s-tail, red fescue, common bent and yellow rattle whose fruit is a dry capsule containing loose seeds that rattle when ripe. Beautiful oxeye daisies can be seen in the summer, a real favourite with bees and hoverflies. You can also spot selfheal which is fabled to have numerous health benefits but is enjoyed mostly here by the bees. The delicate strawberry clover can be found in the meadow – it is likely that wood mice use its leaves in their food stores. Particularly important species found here include corky-fruited water-dropwort and the autumn ladies tresses orchid whose flowers form a spiral around an almost leafless stem. Semi-improved grassland is dominated by a number of rank grass species including cocksfoot, false oatgrass and yorkshire fog. Flower species include wild carrot, green-winged orchids, black knapweed, birds-foot trefoil, yarrow, red clover, creeping thistle* and dock.
Mammals found in One Horse Field include badgers, rabbits, foxes, wood mice and bank voles. Badgers do not live on the site but do use it for foraging. Bird species include great tit, blue tit, wren, blackbird, robin, long-tailed tit, chaffinch, green woodpecker and great spotted woodpecker. rook, jackdaw, jay and carrion crow are also present. Butterflies that you can spot include meadow brown, marbled white, common blue, painted lady, speckled wood, large skipper, small tortoiseshell and red admiral.
Local craftsmen have hand carved benches for the site along with gateway features and even more inside the meadow. The art and seating feature the types of wildlife that you can see when walking through the meadow.
Why is this conservation important?
The soil types, the changes in agricultural practice and natural succession have brought about the current habitats found here. The process of natural succession is dynamic and if left unchecked will allow the grassland to become scrub-dominated and eventually woodland. It is imperative therefore, that in order for the grassland to retain its current interest and to enhance its potential, that management of this site is undertaken.
This field is of particular importance for biodiversity because of the proximity of semi-improved grassland to wetland. This situation benefits species such as dragonflies, which need meadows for feeding and ponds for breeding. If unchecked these open habitats would be lost. The area has been conserved in an area of high demand for housing. It is therefore threatened by development. The site will act as a buffer to the proposed geological SSSI on the soft cliff to the west of the meadow. The loss of these grasslands through lack of management would be a significant loss to the Island.
What is the management plan?
The grassland is of high nature conservation interest that may be lost if the succession to woodland is not impeded. This is done by the removal of annual growth by mowing (with the removal of the cuttings) half a hectare per year on an annual rotation. This will reduce nutrient build up in the soils and prevent the establishment of scrub and maintaining the current nutrient poor sward with its high biodiversity value.