Westbury Wildlife

News and information about wildlife in and around the parish.

Nature Notes – Orchids from June PEW

Colour photographs for the article on p23 of June 2021 PEW

Common Spotted Orchid

Pyramidal Orchid

 

Greater Butterfly Orchid

 

Bee Orchid

 

Plus two bonus photos:

Early Purple Orchid

 

White variant of Green-winged Orchid

Wildflowers in May

Colour photographs for the article on p19 of May 2021 PEW

Birds-foot Trefoil

Pignut

Ragged Robin

Red Valerian

False Oxlip (previously mis-identified as Cowslip)

 

Cowslip (L) and Oxlip (R) for comparison with False Oxlip

All images Creative Commons licence

Ash dieback and pollarding

Several people have expressed concern at the number of mature trees that have been felled or pollarded recently in the upper part of the village.  Sadly, it is a sight that we will have to get used to since most of the trees involved are ash trees and most of them will have been infected with ash dieback- a disease that will kill some 90% of ash trees over the next few years.  You can find out more about dieback here.

Trees affected by dieback can become brittle and unstable and can shed branches in windy conditions.  Where such a tree is alongside a road or path the landowner needs to take action to protect themselves and the public – they would be negligent not to.  Trees well away from public access can be left to die since standing dead wood is a valuable wildlife habitat.

Pollarding – the removal of upper branches – is a long-established form of management and can preserve an ash tree for a time while making it safe. In most cases it will regrow until it finally succumbs to the disease and even then the trunk can be left standing for the benefit of wildlife.

A diseased tree may be weakened internally without signs showing on the outside.  For that reason the safest method of dealing with them is often with giant mechanical shears driven from a heavy vehicle.  The result may not be elegant but it is effective.  Some people have asked whether the brash from infected trees should be burned to slow the spread of the disease.  Unfortunately there are already billions of fungal spores circulating in the air and on leaves that dropped in the autumn so that would have little effect.

Ash dieback will bring about dramatic changes to our local landscape.  Since for environmental reasons we need to increase rather than reduce the number of trees across the country the parish council has established a tree group to help promote awareness of the situation and take practical steps to increase tree planting.  We have compiled information on how to recognise ash dieback, on what sorts of trees might make suitable replacements for ash and where to look for further advice.  We have also established a tree nursery to grow on native trees and begun to plant young trees to replace those that we will lose.

You can find out more about our activities by looking on the website here.  We would be pleased to hear from anyone who is interested in helping us or simply finding out more.