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TFieldfarehe orchard is still full of birds even with the hard winter weather. The most abundant of which are the fieldfare and redwings. They have an excited chatter / chuckle that fills the orchard as they fly in flocks through the rows of trees looking for apples that were left (and there are a good number this year - just as well considering the weather!). We have also spotted lots of blue tits, great tits, long tail tits, song thrush, pheasants, blackbirds, great spotted woodpeckers, as well as buzzards and sparrow hawks keeping the little birds alert!

We had a dormouse hunt last week, but didn't spot any signs in our hedges yet, but a nest was found in a near neighbours hedge, so they're close by!

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (RSPB image)Last night,Green Woodpecker (RSPB image) Hannah, Meg and I were invited to the Cider Museum in Hereford for the launch of the Herefordshire Biodiversity Partnership Woodpecker Survey Exhibition, which details the first year of this project.

"Orchards have recently become a priority Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitat which means that they have been noted for their invaluable biodiversity interest and that they are subject to decline if not managed sensitively. Herefordshire as a county holds the most orchards / highest density in the UK. As a result, we have listed orchards also as a priority habitat and it has been afforded a habitat action plan." (taken from Herefordshire Biodiversity Partnership website)

The survey is being collated by the Herefordshire Ornithological Club (click to learn more and partake in the survey) and they are detailing the locations and habitat of each of the three UK species of woodpecker:

  • The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is about the size of a sparrow and now increasingly rare. It has a strong link to orchards, particularly old, and neglected orchards that still contain deadwood, where it is able to nest and feed, and it is this loss of habitat that is reducing breeding numbers. It is now an RSPB ‘Red list’ species, requiring urgent conservation action.
  • The Green Woodpecker is the largest of our woodpeckers, is also in decline, and registered as an 'Amber list' specieGreat Spotted Woodpecker (RSPB image)s.
  • The Great Spotted Woodpecker is the most common woodpecker and a common visitor to garden bird feeders.

We loved the fantastic photos taken by the very talented photographer and international conservation expert Evan Bowen-Jones the photos really brought to life the colours and textures of the birds and their habitat, with helpful and interesting interpretation boards around the room to explain about the species, why the survey is taking place and how you can help.

We put our stickers on the Herefordshire map as we have Great Spotted Woodpeckers in our garden and around the orchard, and we occasionally spot a Green Woodpecker, but we have yet to spot the rare Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in our immediate area, we'll keep our eyes peeled, but they are secretive and spend most of their time high in the tree tops.

If you have a chance to get into Hereford in the next few weeks, go along to the cider museum to see the exhibition, and enjoy the link between wildlife, orchards, apples and cider! If not, and you live in Herefordshire, do take part in the survey.

I now feel very inspired to try a bit of orchard wildlife photography - I must put "telephoto lens" on my Christmas list....

(images courtesy of RSPB website)

The end of July saw the launch, not only of our new shop here in the orchard, but also the Putley Wildlife Action and Advisory Group.Putley Wildlife Action and Advisory Group

Dormouse (from Herefordshire Nature Trust)Our parish of Putley formulated a "Parish Plan" several years ago, which among many other things, identified the need for a Biodiversity survey. This was undertaken a couple of years ago and identified many ancient hedgerows that would be the perfect habitat for dormice.

In fact several dormice have been spotted in neighbouring hedgerows, and so it seemed the perfect launch event for the group to encourage the proliferation of this endangered species by introducing "dormice tubes" into the wildlife friendly hedgrows of Dragon Orchard.

Nest box with blackberries nearby - dormice will love this!

With any luck, these nest boxes will help numbers increase around our orchard boundary, already home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.

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