When I first visited Meadow Farm, close to the village of Blackthorn near Bicester, I really didn’t know what to expect because the impenetrable roadside hedges concealed the site from inquisitive eyes.

I was full of anticipation because I’d heard how wonderful the site was, but nothing prepared me for the assault on all my senses. As I strolled from one beautiful flower-filled meadow to yet another, I reminded myself that this is rare, valuable, wildlife-rich land, a very special site, and now its fate hangs in the balance.

Over the last century, 97 per cent of lowland wildflower meadows, similar to Meadow Farm, have disappeared from the English countryside.

They have been lost under the concrete and tarmac of houses and roads, or drained and ploughed for intensive farming.

The few remaining meadows, just 1,500 hectares in England, all offering the same vibrant and beautiful spectacle as I was enjoying, are a small reminder of a traditional, rural landscape with a critical role to play in the conservation of our natural heritage. The wildlife trust now has a golden opportunity to buy Meadow Farm and save this extraordinary site for ever.

Every meadow I walked through, showed the classic ridge and furrow field system, characteristic of ancient meadows that haven’t been ploughed for many hundreds of years, with tall grasses growing from the damp furrows, and brighter flowers on the drier ridges. The early morning sun brought out the best in the colourful mosaic of meadow flowers. I quickly estimated there were up to 40 species of flower and grass in each square metre I stopped to study.

A patchwork of colour stretched as far as the eye could see, at least to the hedgerows overflowing with hawthorn blossom. On closer inspection this revealed the gold of yellow rattle, the white of oxeye daisies and the purple hues of knapweed.

As the day warmed up the buzzing and humming of the abundant insect-life was amazing. By getting down amongst the grass I could enter the world of the grassland beasties and get close up.

A particular favourite were the field grasshoppers, which ‘hid’ behind a grass or flower stem as I approached, just tempting me to try out my new camera lens.

Patiently, I stalked one of these intriguing insects, which had cunningly concealed itself on the far side of a grass stem. By carefully clicking the fingers of my outstretched right hand I was able to encourage it to shuffle just enough to its right to allow me to fire off a sequence of frame-filling images, as a brown hare watched nearby. When the brisk wind eased down, clouds of marbled white and common blue butterflies danced over the flower tops. But as the breeze picked up again, the butterflies dropped into the sward to seek shelter and it was a fun challenge to try to find them.

At intervals, I was distracted by the evocative bubbling call of a curlew overhead, suggesting it had a territory in one of the five meadows.

There were also a number of skylarks in song so I indulged in one of my favourite pastimes, to lie on my back and try to spot the skylark high overhead and time how long it would sing uninterrupted; a bird of real stamina.

Across the three counties BBOWT works diligently to protect and restore this type of meadow and the species that it supports.

If the wildlife trust succeeds in buying Meadow Farm, then we will not only save a precious and rare wildlife habitat, we will also be able to create new wildflower meadows using the seed and green hay from this valuable resource.

n Help BBOWT buy Meadow Farm and save this vital wildlife site at justgiving.com/meadowfarmds