Steyning Community Orchard, the Virus and WildlifeVery sadly we have taken the decision to cancel our Apple Day planned for late September. There is so much uncertainty
still (as we write this in early June), about what conditions will be like in three months’ time in terms of social distancing
for children’s activities, catering, musicians playing etc that we have decided it is best to cancel now.
But we have decided instead to try and plan for a couple of Apple Juicing sessions in the Memorial Playing Field Orchard in
September, so that we can make use of all the lovely apples that are ripening on our (and your) trees. More news of this later
as this will require careful planning by us, in addition to agreement from the Parish Council.
Our BioBlitz Day planned for last month also had to be cancelled but all the preparations for this made us focus even more acutely on the wildlife associated with the orchards and how these trees are helping by providing not only food, pollen, nectar and fruit but also 'roads' or corridors where the wildlife can move and live without hindrance and no pesticides.
Strangely many of them begin with the letter B. Firstly, we have the BEES, honey, bumble and solitary - all able to feed on the pollen and nectar of the blossom. They have been around in good numbers, undoubtedly aided by the warmth and the
sunshine that we have also enjoyed over the last few months.
BIRDS are finding food like caterpillars, greenfly and bugs in addition to hiding places in the trees so now have a larger territory to work in. Whenever we turn the soil over in the orchard or start to weed, there are invariably Blackbirds and Robins waiting their chance to grab a morsel.
BUTTERFLIES are appearing. Good numbers of Brimstone, Holly Blues and Orange Tips early on, but fewer lately. Perhaps the long damp winter has affected some of the species.
This is the second year we have been monitoring them in the Community Orchard. By use of a clever device that plugs into an iPhone we can both hear their echolocation calls and have the species identified.
A long hedge bordering the Orchard runs down the length of the adjoining allotments, and it is clear that bats use
this hedgerow during their nightly hunting trips, moving down the hedge to the countryside beyond. Each half hour survey has detected 4 or 5 different species, and up to 30 bats in each session