Wildlife in St Mary's Church Field Orchard
Reports 2022

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  • Wildlife April 2022
    Wildlife in St Mary’s Church Field Orchard: April 2022
    Thanks to Paul Arthur/ click
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    We had a mild, windy winter, with several named storms felling a number of trees in the local area, but thankfully no serious damage in the community orchards. The first snow of the winter fell in a brief shower on Thursday 31st March! It didn’t settle, but did show us that winter still has some surprises to deliver. 
    Spring is now well and truly making itself felt. We have lots of wild flowers getting into their stride, with celandines, primroses, dandelions, daises, lords and ladies, and white dead nettle all providing food for our pollinators. We even have a small patch of wild daffodils. 

    Have you noticed how wild flowers in early spring are often white or yellow in colour? This is because a lot of the early spring pollinators are flies, which lack colour vision, meaning they can’t see colours the way humans do. White and yellow reflect plenty of light, which shows the flowers up against their green and brown backgrounds and are therefore easier to find by the flying insects.

    In our pond, we had some frogspawn in March, which has now disappeared. There are a few tadpoles, but not as many as a few years ago, for reasons currently unknown. However, there are plenty of newts in the pond (and one of their foods is tadpoles!) and this could be one of the contributory factors. The pond skaters have made a welcome return, as they float about on the surface of the pond, hunting for tiny prey.

    Birds recently seen in the orchard include a pair of great tits, blue tits, robins, goldfinches, a dunnock, starlings, and blackbirds. We were also recently visited by a great spotted woodpecker, which could then be heard ‘drumming’ in a nearby silver birch tree, as it hunts for insect prey. We also heard our first chiffchaff on 13th March.

    Our gorse bush is sporting a proliferation of yellow flowers, April being its most vivid month of the year. This is an unusual plant, in that it is virtually always in flower to some extent, and this spawned the famous saying, “When gorse is not in flower, kissing is out of fashion!”.

    During the warm weather of late March, we were lucky to see a number of brimstone butterflies, rather more than in recent years. We’ve also been visited by peacocks and small tortoiseshells, which have over wintered as adults and emerge in early spring for their first feast of nectar from the wild flowers that are scattered through the orchard.

    Cherry and blackthorn are already in lovely blossom. Some of our fruit trees that blossom early, such as the gages, need protection from frosts with fleece, otherwise fruits will not set.

    So here’s to welcoming Spring with all of its wildlife wonders!