Birches Farm Trail – Allens Wood Meadow

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C:  Enter Allens Wood meadow

Via the gate enter the Allens Wood meadow and turn sharp right and follow the side of the hedgerow to the field gate.

In the summer of 2020 the next two fields Allens Wood and Cockshoot, have had wildflower seeds from nearby wildflower meadows spread onto them. We hope that the seeds will grow in future years and make this an even richer meadow for wildflowers and insects.

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Wildflower seeds

Wildflower meadows such as these are now few and far between with 97% having been lost since the second world war. Modern fields tend instead to be a monoculture of ryegrass, managed with fertilisers and herbicides. Traditionally managed lowland meadows, classed as ‘unimproved, neutral grassland’ instead boast up to 30 grasses and 100 or more wildflower species. These attract hundreds of insect species which in turn attract many declining farmland birds such as skylark, bats and small mammals.

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Species-rich traditional meadow

Birches Farm was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 2014, largely on the basis of its extensive species-rich traditional meadows.

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Yellow Rattle
Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor).

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Meadow Saffron
Meadow saffron (Colchicum autumnale).


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Dyer’s Greenweed
Dyer’s greenweed (Genista tinctoria).

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Green-winged orchid
Green-winged orchid (Orchis morio).

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Early-purple orchid
Early-purple orchid (Orchid mascula).

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Frog orchid
Frog orchid (Coeloglossum viride).

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Common spotted orchid
Common Spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii).

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Pyramidial orchid
Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis morio).

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Adder’s-tongue fern
The inconspicuous adder’s-tongue fern (Ophioglossum vulgatum) can also be found. 

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Other wildlife
Other wildlife that can be seen on the reserve includes brown hare (Lepus europaeus) and many species of birds such as red kite (Milvus milvus), redstart and willow warbler. Listen to the sound of these three birds below.

Birds on the Reserve

Red Kite | Redstart | Willow warbler

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Allens Wood and Cockshoot
Pass through Allens Wood field heading for the gate in the hedge.

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Cockshoot field
Through this gate into Cockshoot field. You are heading down another glacial hummock towards the gate into Crossway. This is the lefthand of the two gates which are  present in this hedge.