Visiting the meadows in winter is a very different experience from the summer.
No longer the heat of the sun accompanied by the whirr and buzz of a myriad of insects. The Panama hat and shirt sleeves have given way to a thick winter hat, coat and gloves and one is less inclined to linger!
However, the more muted quality of the meadows in winter makes me look for some of the subtler features which are easily overlooked during the 'heady' days of grassland summer.
The presence of lichens, mosses and fungi becomes much more obvious - and features like deadwood, fencing, gates and leafless hedges seem to reveal the 'skeleton' of a site. The oak gate post in the picture shows one of the lichens, but I was really pleased with the picture of an old tree trunk.
It is always good to be reminded that these features are just as much part of the character and ecological interest of the meadows as the wildflower rich grassland for which they are perhaps best known.