Birches Farm Trail – Allens Wood Meadow
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.
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.
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.
Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor).
Meadow saffron (Colchicum autumnale).
Dyer’s greenweed (Genista tinctoria).
Green-winged orchid (Orchis morio).
Early-purple orchid (Orchid mascula).
Frog orchid (Coeloglossum viride).
Common spotted orchid
Common Spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii).
Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis morio).
The inconspicuous adder’s-tongue fern (Ophioglossum vulgatum) can also be found.
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.
Allens Wood and Cockshoot
Pass through Allens Wood field heading for the gate in the hedge.
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.