Chapel Orchard Natural History

Plants and animals you might see

Plants of the Orchard

Some of the old orchard fruit trees – greengages, Bramley, Monarch and Wealthy Apples- survive amongst the elder bushes, blackthorn, brambles and wild plums (or bullaces) which took root as the land became derelict. Two Conference pears and a Beauty of Bath apple, all half standard root stock, were planted in the Chapel Orchard in 2007. Also growing now are ash trees, hawthorns, willows and a sycamore tree or two; these have grown from seeds probably dropped by birds, other animals or carried on the wind.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Chapel Orchard Natural History' page

In the rich soil beneath the trees, nettles, cow parsley and hedge woundwort (spikes of pink flowerets) flourish through the Spring and Summer.  Red campion, wild arum, violets, and dog's mercury also grow in shady spots, whilst buttercups, poppies, dandelions, borage, thistles and mallows compete with grass in the more open areas. Water figwort, sedges and celandines are found in damp locations, particularly on the stream banks. Bluebells snowdrops and foxgloves have been introduced since 2006.

Animals of the Orchard

The Orchard is both a base and a transit camp for wildlife, moving about this area of arable fields. Moles are the most obvious residents.

Photo:A local badger

A local badger

Badgers live and breed in a long established sett in an undisturbed corner of the Orchard, and foxes and muntjac deer regularly pass through, evidenced by clear footprints when the earth is wet.

Butterflies are seen from Spring through Autumn. Red Admirals lay their eggs on the nettles and can be seen feeding on ivy and thistle flowers in early Autumn. Commas also breed on the nettles, and the brown and orange Gatekeeper butterfly can often be seen feeding on bramble flowers.

Birds seen in the Orchard include blackbirds, goldfinches, chaffinches, thrushes, blackcaps, great tits, dunnocks, wrens, woodpigeons and robins. Ivy has been left to grow over some standing and fallen trees to provide cover for nesting birds. Freshwater shrimps and frogs have been seen in the pond.

This page was added by Martin Grigor on 26/09/2012.

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