Monthly Archives: May 2013

BBC Radio 4 Birdsong Show

For anyone interested in birdsong who hasn’t already spotted this, the BBC is running a 90-second daily show highlighting the songs of British birds. Some general information about birdsong is available from

If you aren’t generally up at 05:58 BST to hear the show on Radio 4, it can be heard and downloaded from:

Where are the swifts?

2 swifts tonight near the large houses on Aldcliffe road. How much longer must we wait before they begin their spectacular evening displays?

And where have all the ducklings gone? We spotted a magpie trying to take one recently, but what else is the cause of such a high attrition rate?

Three birds beginning with S

Early this morning:

  • Large flock of Starlings in the big field in Flora – At least 300 birds quite impressive sight..  They had mostly dispersed by the time I passed the field again about an hour later .
  • 11 Shelduck sitting on top of the hill in the field up by Pony Wood
  • Sedge Warbler singing in the bushes in the middle of the Orchard

Other birds spotted in the area over the past week or so:
Canada Goose
Grey Heron
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Feral Pigeon
Collared Dove
Great Spotted Woodpecker
House Martin
Pied Wagtail
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Sedge Warbler
Garden Warbler
Wood Warbler
Long-tailed Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Carrion Crow
House Sparrow

May Nature Notes

Hedgerow Flowers
The last two weeks has seen the appearance of our hedgerow flowers, several of them already mentioned in other blogs. It may just be my own perception of this but there seem to be more of them appearing in new places following the hedge cutting.
Blooming May
An English hedgerow would not be complete without the snowy white scented May blossom of the Hawthorn. The blossom attracts many insects and the tree itself provides a habitat for many animals; nesting birds, spiders and other invertebrates on the leaves and in its furrowed bark.
The young leaves have a slightly nutty taste. When I was a child we knew them has ‘bread and cheese’. No idea why!
Hawthorn Mythology
Hawthorn trees can live for many years, some are hundreds of years old. So it is no surprise that the ancient hawthorn features in centuries of myth and legend.
Fairies are said to live in and around them. Anyone falling asleep under the hawthorn tree could find themselves carried away by the fairy people.
Have you ever wondered why one sometimes sees one or two isolated gnarled and windswept hawthorn trees in a field or on a hillside? These ‘lone trees’ are the fairy trees. Cut one down at your peril!
Britain’s most famous hawthorn is the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury. Legend tells of how Joseph of Arimathea arrived at a hill overlooking Glastonbury Tor with a few disciples and two sacred vessels containing the blood and sweat of Jesus. Where he thrust his staff into the ground it sprouted and grew into a thorn tree. Though the original is obviously not there any more, one of its supposed descendants does still stand on the hill.
May blossom featured in early May festivals. Before the calendar changes of the C18 it would have been in flower earlier in the month.
Marsh Marigolds
In the marshy area near the middle entrance to the Orchard is a wonderful display of yellow marsh marigolds. Quite an abundance following the cutting back of the dogwood earlier this year.
Help with identification
Don’t forget, the Association has a selection of ID charts (birds, insects, trees etc) which you are welcome to borrow.

Volunteer session Saturday 11th May 2013

Here is Jonathan’s email message

Greetings Orchardeers,

There’ll be a volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard and Fauna this Saturday, May 11th, starting at the usual time of 10.00am and finishing at 1.00pm.

Ian will be away and so the session will be led by Ken.
In the unlikely event of there being any physical misfortune, Graham will be the first aider.

The agenda…

1. Mow the grass.
2. Strim / cut back a section of growth around the apple trees.
3. Pick litter along the Long Pads path and in the Flora copse. NOTE:
a.  Volunteers MUST wear protective gloves
b.  There must be a container in which unsafe objects are placed.
c.  The remaining rubbish to be bagged and barrowed to the shed from where it will transported to the tip another day.
4. Thin out the daffodils between the stump circle and the notice board path and under the sycamore tree. The consensus at the last session was that the thinning should be used to enlarge the existing areas. Keep ‘in the green’ so if the ground is too dry the job can’t be done.
5. Wrap black plastic round the stumps of felled elders in the hedge.
6. Clear the small tree alongside the Fauna / School footpath which has blown over.
7. Move the brash pile in the Paddock (near the Fauna Stones) to Fraser’s bonfire site.
8. In consultation with Keith remove the badly cankered apple trees and cart away to the bonfire site.
9. In consultation with Graham remove algal growth in Upper Sowerholme pond.
10. Tidy around the Shed including bring Graham’s stumps in from the Paddock.

And last but not least,
11. At the end of the session all tools to go to The New Shed. HURRAH.

I’ve spoken with my usual contacts in Weather and can confirm that excellent conditions will prevail throughout.

Please come along if you possibly can.
Even if you’re not able to join in for the full three hours your efforts will not go to waste and as scientists have now proven, they will in fact do not just the orchard but also you the world of good. What’s not to like?

Best wishes,