Traditional Orchard

MARCH 2013 – An Update from Bill Stanworth

The Community Orchards Handbook recommends undertaking an ecological survey to help with preparing a management plan. I have made a start, last year in particular, at recording the plants and animals that I have seen there. The plant list is fairly comprehensive (see separate link on “flora” survey) but a bit more work is needed on the grasses. You will be impressed by the number of species listed considering the state of the orchard when we started. There are quite a lot of heath/acid grassland species so it’s possible this area was originally heathland although I haven’t recorded any heathers. I recorded Sheeps Sorrel, Heath Bedstraw, Trailing St John’s-wort, Gorse and Broom, most of which can be seen on the heath. I didn’t find any particularly unusual species unfortunately; the least common is perhaps Bird’s-foot which is quite an insignificant plant whose status is frequent to local. This survey will I believe also be useful to monitor how the orchard changes with time plus it’s a record of those plants we’ve introduced.

The Faunal survey just scratches the surface. I’m only a novice at this and so it will take a while to get a reasonable list. However, the reptile tin has paid off, species seen include wood mice, Common Shrew, Slow-worms, Grass Snake plus 2 species of ant and one beetle!

The dead wood habitat is also paying off, the Stag Beetle was recorded for two years running and another Nationally Scarce (B) beetle, the Black-headed Cardinal Beetle (see photo) also uses dead wood in its early stages. I’m sure there must be others.

Another Nationally notable species is Volucella zonaria (see photo) which is one of the largest British hoverflies. It, along with several others species of hoverfly and 10 Red Admiral butterflies (photo below of some of them) were seen on Ivy flowers last October.

Butterflies species total 11 so far despite the poor summer last year. I believe it was a good decision to leave the old cherry (which died this year) alone. The female Stag Beetle was seen to be investigating the rotten root plate, the tree has the Jet Black Ant’s nest and the ivy flowers covering it were literally buzzing with flying insects last year. The faunal list doesn’t include birds but a list is present on the Notice Board. I noted one bird that escaped that list, Stock Dove. This bird nested in the orchard last year.

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