Wildlife in the Orchard 2021
Thanks to Paul Arthur for the reports
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March 2021

As the days are lengthening, and the temperature slowly but surely rising, the wildlife in the community orchard is beginning to wake from its winter slumbers with clear evidence that spring is well and truly here!
We are delighted to be able to report that a large mass of frog spawn has recently been spotted in the wildlife pond. In a few weeks time, this will have turned into a seething mass of tiny tadpoles, which in turn will develop into small frogs which will be venturing forth in late summer.
The wildlife area is maturing very nicely. There is a clump of perfect daffodils at one end, which is enough to brighten up anybody’s day, and a large patch of wild primroses in the bog garden area. The yellow Celandines are flowering profusely, and are now at their peak. These are some of the earliest wild flowers to be seen, and in favourable conditions can be seen as early as late December, and even then can be attracting honey bees, eager to get at their valuable nectar.

There is an old hedge at the southern boundary of the orchard, which unfortunately had contained several non-native shrubs and trees. We recently severely trimmed back the fast growing non-native sycamore, and removed several cotoneasters, which are not particularly wildlife friendly. In their place, we have planted 30 saplings of native hawthorn, hazel and rowan. These will be nurtured over the coming season, and in a few years' time the berries of the rowan and hawthorn will provide vital sustenance to birds, and could even attract winter migrants such as redwings and fieldfares.
Our three beehives are all showing much activity, and the attraction of the nectar from the many orchard wild flowers, will ensure they are available to fertilise the blossom on our fruit trees in April and May.
We eagerly await the distinctive call of the chiffchaff warbler, which should soon be heard singing from the ash tree near the pond, and which in the past has been spotted ferreting about for insects during the winter months. We believe that there are a few of these normally migrant birds that are choosing to overwinter around the community orchard.