Astral Park Community Orchard – site surveys

In August 2015  Roy Maycock, president of the Milton Keynes Natural History Society,  did a survey of the wildflowers  in the orchard.

We compared  the results with those of the 2011 survey done by Phil Irving of the Greensand Trust before we started managing the area, and found that biodiversity had increased.

In July 2017 Rory Morissey , a local wildlife expert, surveyed the area and commented: “I think that the main point I’d like to make about Astral Park and the creatures and plants that we found is that it exemplified an ecosystem  and a complete life-cycle for many of them.  For example, the dragonflies and damselflies would probably have been living as larvae in the balancing pond or in the ditches, they emerge as flying adults and mature in the long grass and the woods, then go back to water to breed.  For another example, the brown argus and common blue butterflies may have arisen from eggs laid on bird’s-foot trefoil in the short grass, but mature and mate in the long grass and flowers.  The grasshoppers and crickets that we saw generally live all their lives in the long grass, but I have previously seen another species nearby, the common field grasshopper, that prefers short grass and rough ground.

Birds will of course eat the insects, but as you can see from the photos, some of them eat each other. No doubt there are hundreds of creatures living there and we only scratched the surface.”

LH column, from top:  Brown argus, common blue damselfly, Essex skipper, lesser marsh grasshopper, meadow grasshopper

RH column, from top: Cinnabar moth, common darter dragonfly,  hoverfly on hedge parsley (there were many different types of hoverfly), long-winged conehead, sawfly on agrimony.