OPT was bequeathed this meadow by Mr John Tait. The land had been neglected for many years and used in part as a scrap yard, and so was severely degraded. On acquisition, the Trust arranged for the removal of over 250 tonnes of waste (including tractors, rail wagons and six boats) and then drew up plans to maximise the benefit to the local community by creating a wildlife friendly amenity space with public access.
A significant restoration project to transform the site into a nature reserve was made possible through generous grants from the Pond Conservation Million Ponds Project and the Waste Recycling Group through the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment.
Three interpretation boards, a boardwalk (allowing access over the wetter areas of the site all year round), a scrape with willow screen to view wildlife without disturbance, ponds, a viewing platform and two benches have been installed around the nature reserve. Careful management of the grassland through cutting and baling twice a year has seen the return of rarer meadow flowers such as snake’s head fritillaries.
The Snake’s Head Fritillary is Oxfordshire’s County flower and is characteristic of traditionally managed flood meadows. They are nationally scarce and only a few sites in the UK are considered to hold wild populations. At Heyford Meadow, Snake’s Head Fritillaries bloom alongside the boardwalk and have chequered purple and pink bell-like flowers hanging from thin stems and narrow leaves at the base of the plant. To learn more about the Snake's Head Fritillary and its lifecycle click here.