57. Helix Orchard & Nuttery Survey

Once upon a time when you could wear one layer, Kevin and I got the opportunity to help the Forth Environment Link survey the nuttery and orchard at the Helix in Falkirk near the new Kelpies. Over a period of several weeks we focused on specific types of surveys to give a good baseline for any future development of the nuttery and orchard site.Picture2

Picture1The tree surveys were lead by The Appletreeman (Andrew Lear) who guided us though the nuttery inspecting the trees. The nuttery itself is within the Helix park and has been planted in the past few years with already grown standard trees. A few were in good condition, but unfortunately a lot weren’t all suited well to our climate.Picture3We then headed over to the old orchard near the beancross hotel on a bit of forgotten scrubland. We inspected each of the 20+ trees and gave all their GPS coordinates. A few had apples on them which helps being able to start to identify the varieties. Picture4The next week we met at the old orchard to do a wildflower survey with Caroline Crawford (with Scottish Natural Heritage) to guide us and help identify the various wildflowers.Picture12Picture14Picture16Picture18Picture13We were loaned identification guides and hand lenses from Plantlife which helped see the magnified fine detail.Picture17It was such fun wandering around and discovering new plants and learning how to identify them. While we were there we set up bug traps to capture a few beasties in a few weeks to identify the different insects and wildlife present.

A few weeks later we met on the old orchard site with Suzie Bairner from Buglife to help look through the traps as well as run about the site with nets trying to catch and identify live critters (we let them go again once identified).Picture5 Picture6Picture7 Picture8 Picture9 Picture10We also got to do a tree shake where we held out a white sheet and shook the tree- catching the insects below on the sheet. We managed to find quite a lot of interesting beasties that helped us get a good basis for the level of biodiversity at the orchard site.Picture11It was a fantastic few days spent inspecting the ground and skies in August & September learning more about this site and Orchard Biodiversity. Thanks to Diane from Forth Valley Orchards for organizing these Survey days!

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