Bark stripping – but by what? (Juliet’s Blog, March#2)

 New bark damage to orchard trees. Deer?

I have a Bushnell trail camera that I move around the garden and orchard from time to time to see what the wildlife is doing.

A few weeks back for the first time this winter there was a lot of bark stripping in the orchard, so I put up the camera hoping to discover the miscreant in the act. No such luck! Though, in a way it was lucky since the bark stripping has largely stopped.

Here is the rogues gallery.

I still suspect the worst damage is caused by Roe Deer though they didn’t show on the camera trap, as they are very common round here and I see them quite often in the garden. Or maybe Roe Deer and the very abundant Rabbits. And Grey Squirrels?

Well, at least I’m not blaming the Redwings. Most of the winter thrushes have now gone. The last big flock I saw was on 13 March with just the occasional individual since.

MistleGO! mistletoe survey – ensure your orchard is recorded!

A brand new mistletoe survey has just been launched by the Tree Council and Oxford University, as an app-based citizen science project to assess the state of mistletoe in Britain. Not just where is it, but what quantities exist. This is new, and exciting, as it will help determine what is happening with mistletoe in Britain here – it seems to be spreading more and faster and we need a new study to assess this, and to create a baseline for assessments in future.

Orchard owners across Gloucestershire – and in adjoining Somerset, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gwent – will be familiar with the particular problem locally. Neglected traditional orchards, in the heart of mistletoe’s favoured region, can become overwhelmed by mistletoe – and it can result in the death of tress and accelerate orchard loss. It shouldn’t be like this of course – mistletoe has co-existed in our area and our orchards since at least the early 19th century and probably well before that. But the decline in interest in managing such orchards, coupled with an apparent increase in mistletoe spread, is now a problem.

Which we need to document. Many will recall the National Mistletoe Survey in the 1990s, run jointly by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and Plantlife, the plant conservation charity. Instigated in 1992 and analysed through the 1990s up to 1999. That was led by GOT’s own Jonathan Briggs, who is an advisor on the new project  The 1990s study, also linked to orchards  but worrying that orchard loss might result in mistletoe loss (a concept that now seems naive!) merely assessed where mistletoe was growing. But not the amount growing The new project aims to address that.  There is a presentation all about it here: https://youtu.be/o6IcGgkcTGk

The assessment is not just about orchards of course – and the new project looks well beyond orchards to the wider habitats where mistletoe thrives. Anecdotal evidence, and some detailed regional local studies outside our area since the 1990s study, have suggested mistletoe is doing very well in all its habitats – orchards, parkland, churchyards, hedgerows etc. Increasing spread may be due to climate change, changes in the bird populations spreading the seeds, or something else entirely. For a discussion of all this have a read of Jonathan Briggs’ 2021 review here.

Ollie Spacey and mistletoe

So… do take part if you can. It is important that we document the abundance of mistletoe in our area!  And the new study does allow you to record multiple hosts trees at once, so no need (phew!) to document every individual orchard tree!

The project is called MistleGO! It is app-based (though you can use the website version if you prefer) and is being masterminded by Oliver Spacey, a PhD student at Oxford.  The app requires you to give location (it will do this automatically), to take a picture of the tree (or group of trees) with mistletoe, give a score of how much mistletoe there is, and, optionally, give additional information on host tree species etc. Full details (summarised below) are on the Tree Council website here and download instructions for the app (you need the Arc123 app first, and then run the MistleGO! app within that)  are here.

Or just scan this QR code.

 

How to take part:

Download the Survey123 app from the App Store or Google Play (or, if on a PC, from Microsoft)

Download the MistleGO! survey via the link above or the QR code

Open the app and click “Continue without signing in”

Click on the MistleGO! survey and start collecting your record!

You can also take part and upload pictures you’ve taken via the web version, but make sure to set your location to where you spotted the mistletoe!

Hartpury Dawn Chorus Sunday 7th May 2023

Sunday 7 May 2023 05.00 Hartpury Orchard Centre.

An early start for those wanting to catch the dawn chorus. This is a joint event with the Orchard Centre and Gloucestershire Naturalist Society.

At 05.15 we set off, when the mists above Colliers Brook and Catsbury start to rise as the sun comes up. The slow ramble takes about 45 minutes, going through the perry pear orchards and alongside the lakes and reedbeds. It is a friendly informal morning.

Toast and hot drinks are served afterwards. We welcome quiet children – but sorry, no dogs. Meet at the Orchard Centre, Blackwell’s End, GL19 3DB, SO 784254, Hartpury, Gloucestershire. There is plenty of parking available. It is a free event, though donations are welcome to support the Orchard Centre and Trust work. Wellies or strong boots essential. Leader Mervyn Greening.

National Perry Pear Centre Events 2023

https://www.hartpuryheritage.org.uk/events/ and https://www.nationalperrypearcentre.org.uk/events/

Sunday 23 April 2023 12 noon-5pm – Blossom day, enjoy a picnic in the orchard

Sunday 7 May 2023 5am Dawn chorus walk led by Mervyn Greening (for details click here)

Sunday 14 May 2023 Rogation service in orchard 6pm

Sunday 21 May 2023 Moth breakfast 9am opening moth traps and identification

Between 3 and 11 June 2023 (dates to be fixed) Moth event in Hartpury churchyard

Bat walk in churchyard (provisional)

Sunday 11 June 2023 Garden Open Prestberries Cottage (Jim’s large garden includes fruit trees)

August – Plum display date to be fixed (provisionally Sunday 27 August 2023)

Saturday 16 September 2023 Perry pear display

October Apple display (provisional)

Sunday 26 November 2023 Christmas market

Longney Orchard News

This picture, taken by Ann, shows Stuart Smith after the planting work

Ann Smith writes:

Today we planted more Gloucestershire plum trees at GOT’s Longney Orchard and replaced one or two apple trees. The soil is good quality and drains well.

Sheep continue to graze the orchards. The flocks of fieldfares and redwings were enjoying the fallen apples.

A tattered red admiral butterfly warmed itself on the barn brickwork in full sun on this mild November day. It was rather tattered, weary from a long year chased by birds or perhaps it was tipsy from the fermented fruit! Will it survive the winter? They are known to enter a dormant state and the barn would certainly provide shelter.

The red admiral picture (right) and the fieldfare pictures below were taken by John Fletcher, who is a regular birdwatcher at Longney.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Big Apple Harvestime 8th and 9th October 2022

Big Apple, the orchard association for the Much Marcle area, is holding its annual Harvestime weekend on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th October.

Nine venues are ready to welcome visitors to Much Marcle over the two days.

The venues have plenty to offer visitors. There will be opportunities to enjoy the local orchards, see, hear and smell cider and perry being made and taste and buy many different varieties of apples, local ciders, perries and apple juices.

Full details at https://www.bigapple.org.uk/harvestime2022/

Days Cottage Orchard & Rural Skills Centre Apple Afternoon 16th October

Dave Kaspar identifying apples. Small number of representative samples only please!

This year’s apple celebrations at Days Cottage will be on Sunday 16 October 2022, 1-4pm.

Apple Day Afternoon with Dave Kaspar and Helen Brent-Smith, www.dayscottage.co.uk Upton Lane, Brookthorpe, GL4 0UT.

Mulled apple juice, lovely apple and pear themed cakes, family event, music, heritage fruit to try and buy, rare trees for sale. Buy juice, cider and perry from unsprayed fruit. Now is a chance to chat to Dave and Helen about your orchard/fruit questions. But they do get busy!

Browse their mature and young orchards, bring a picnic. Walk around the Museum Orchard of rare Gloucestershire varieties. Maps available (please return). Signage will be out.

Bring a few representative samples for identification and a small amount (two carrier bags) for juicing at the farm.  Small charge for the latter.  Only a small number of representative samples please!

One way system in operation. Yurt and roundhouse. Forest garden to explore.

They also run a rolling programme of Pruning, Grafting and Bud-Grafting workshops here in  winter and summer. These will be advertised on the Days Cottage and GOT websites.

 

Dave Kaspar identifying apples at his and Helen’s Days Cottage Apple Afternoon in October.

News and events from Hartpury Orchard Centre

posted in: Past Events | 0

Hartpury Orchard Centre has recently launched a new Facebook Group called Orchard Watch which invites all visitors to record the flora and fauna seen on their visit. If you join this group you will see regular updates and invitations to events such as Bioblitzes, Moth Nights, Bird Mornings and other family friendly occasions.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/939594460324806

Forthcoming events at the Centre include:

  • Sunday 24 April 2022 Blossom Day event – this will be a low key affair – just tap bar open from noon, but you can still walk around the orchard and down to the wetland/bird hide. https://www.nationalperrypearcentre.org.uk/
  • Sunday 1 May 2022 Dawn Chorus Walk 5.00 am followed by Breakfast at Orchard Centre
  • Sunday 22 May 2022 Rogation Church Service in orchard (note: the Tap-Bar will also be open)
  • Saturday/Sunday 11/12 June 2022 Moth night – all to be revealed over breakfast at Orchard Centre on the Sunday morning (weather dependent)

Plus there are Cider & Perry Courses with Peter Mitchell at the Centre.

https://www.cider-academy.co.uk/uk-courses/

A busy winter for Tim

Tim Andrews is always busy.  A dad of two, teacher, GOT committee member and owner of Orchard Revival Cider, it is not hard to fill every spare minute. Below is his summary of orchard activities so far this winter!

Pocketts Orchard, WhitminsterWe have continued to work with Cotswold Canals Connected to look after and restore the traditional orchard at Whitminster next to the canal. A particular highlight was the talk given by Jonathan Briggs, a previous GOT chair, about mistletoe. Nearly all the old trees have their yearly prune and we have cleared quite a bit of excess brambles. We await the results of the DNA testing that took place in the autumn and we hope to do some more grafting at the start of March. There is a lot planned in the summer such as fencing and building a field shelter which should allow us to control the grazing better. Work parties are held on the 2nd Saturday of every month. Please contact Peter Savage peter.savage@gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk if you’d like to join us.

Tree plantingWe managed to squeeze in some more tree planting on our own land this winter. Another 24 takes us to 358 trees and 131 varieties all on full standard root stocks. Being well watered in the first year of planting we have only lost 1 tree! However, there was little growth due to the dry summer we had last year and also because I hadn’t mulched enough. There is never enough time to do it all! We have also led the creation of a new community orchard at the Ionian, a wood fired pizza restaurant on the A38 near Berkeley. We donated the trees, led the planting session and the Ionian is providing the land and paying for the guards. The pizza, cake and coffee provided certainly energised the volunteers.

PruningOnly a couple of orchards beyond Pocketts orchard managed to get pruned this year. These were a lovely old cider orchard in Halmore and a small orchard in North Nibley. I would have liked to have done more, but my teaching job gets in the way!

Bird boxesThe best bit about being a teacher is the children. This year a group of students in my year group were really keen to do something to improve the environment at my school Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School. So we held a raffle and have raised enough money to buy the materials for 4 blue tit nesting boxes, 1 kestrel box, 14 swift boxes and a sound system to attract the swifts. The students’ next job is constructing the boxes and erecting them on the school site. I am also working with a bird expert in our village, Peter Kirmond. We are hoping to turn North Nibley into a swift hub by erecting lots of swift nesting boxes. For each bottle or pint of our Save Our Swift cider we donate 20p towards the cause.

GraftingWe are also running a number of grafting workshops thanks to a Farming in Protected Landscapes grant. Martin Hayes and David Lindgren, our joint GOT chairs, will be on hand to help to. We’ll be at North Nibley on 1st March, Avening on 8th March and Hazleton on the 14th March. Email Martin if you are interested in attending martin@glosorchards.org.

Tim Andrews  https://orchardrevival.co.uk/

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Murmurations at Hartpury Orchard Centre

 

There have been some spectacular Starling murmurations at Hartpury Orchard Centre in the last week or so.

 

These take place over the wetlands adjoining the orchards before the starlings came down to roost in the reeds

 

This is a very satisfying habitat success story – 15 years ago the area was an arable field with no ponds.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.