Records from a 'Local Patch'. Drakes Broughton Orchards

By Kevin McGee

If you are anything like me you probably spend as much of your valuable free time as possible at one of Worcestershire’s prime wildlife ‘hotspots’, in my case Tiddesley Wood; renowned for it’s rich flora and fauna.

However, on occasions it’s only possible to snatch a short half-hour break in the middle of a busy schedule, so what we do is take the dogs for a run across a small network of public footpaths on the outskirts of our village; Drakes Broughton. One path leads through an area of orchards from which I have compiled an interesting list of ‘casual’ records covering the last three years.

The orchards, centred on grid-ref; SO923487, occupy an area of land roughly equating to that of a couple of football pitches, (I’m not intending to get too technical in this article)! At first glance the site appears fairly unremarkable with regimental rows of commercially grown varieties of apple trees. There is however an element of some neglect which gives the place an immediate sense of appeal to the naturalist. By far the best aspect of the site is the presence of a very good hedgerow on its northern and eastern boundaries. I don’t know for certain but I suspect these could be ancient boundaries; there is a ditch system and a healthy variety of overgrown and entangled trees and shrubs including Pedunculate and Sessile Oak, Crab-Apple, Pear, Plum, Damson, Field Maple, Hazel, Holly, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Dutch Elm (I think), and Sallow. In addition there are entanglements of Ivy, Bramble, Dog-Rose species and the odd Birch sapling. There is an ‘ordinary’ mix of associated hedgerow flowers, Cow-Parsley and Hogweed being very prominent. (I’m no botanist but I haven’t found anything unusual). As I understand it these small neglected corners of Worcestershire’s fruit-growing orchards are fast disappearing, but are home for a wealth of species, often in areas surrounded by ‘deserts’ of agricultural Rye Grass. Indeed, I suspect many of the so-called ‘common’ species are only able to maintain present population levels because of these small scattered corners of ‘neglected’ agricultural land. It could be that these inter-connecting corridors of good wildlife habitat deserve as much attention from a conservation point of view as do our ‘jewels-in-the-crown’ like Tiddesley.

If you can, it’s very worthwhile keeping an eye open for anything unusual at your own ‘local’; as well as it being good fun to maintain a list of species recorded, you can quickly get to know it intimately, rather like keeping a list of birds in your garden. The real thrill comes when you find something of genuine importance, and I’m certain that Worcestershire still holds many surprises that need to be discovered and, above all, preserved.

My own areas of interest are ornithology and entomology. There now follows an account of my findings from casual records at Drakes Broughton Orchards over the last three years.


A total of 47 species recorded ON-SITE-ONLY. Those overhead or in neighbouring fields do not count.

The most noteworthy records are;

WoodcockScolopax rusticolaOne flushed from ditch on 21.3.1998
Turtle DoveStreptopelia turturBreeding pair each year. May to July
Lesser WhitethroatSylvia currucaAt least one breeding pair each year. July is best month
HobbyFalco subbuteoOne present briefly on 31.5.1999. was chased off by a Mistle Thrush!
BullfinchPyrrhula pyrrhulaAt least one breeding pair annually. Up to six present in winter
LinnetCarduelis cannabinaVery rare winter visitor only
YellowhammerEmberiza citrinellaVery rare winter visitor only

Other known breeding residents are;

Woodpigeon Columba palumbus
Collared dove Streptopelia decaocto
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Great spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Dunnock Prunella modularis
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Blackbird Turdus merula
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Blue Tit Parus caeruleus
Great Tit Parus major
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Magpie Pica pica
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis

The site is especially important for the large numbers of FIELDFARES, Turdus pilaris and REDWINGS, Turdus iliacus that come to feed on the apples left to rot during the winter months. Christmas is the peak time with Fieldfare numbers reaching 200, Redwings roughly half that amount.


A total of 17 species recorded. The most noteworthy records are:

Holly blueCelastrina argiolusOccasional singletons. Probably breeding resident
Marbled WhiteMelanargia galatheaOccasional singletons, probably wanderers from the nearby colony at the Mill Meadow reserve
RingletAphantopus hyperantusHealthy colony exists. For example; up to 20 on 8.7.98

Other species recorded at Drakes Broughton orchards;

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni
Comma Polygonia c-album
Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus
Green-veined White Pieris napi
Large Skipper Ochlodes venata
Large White Pieris brassicae
Meadow Brown Maniola jurtina
Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines
Peacock Inachis io
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
Small White Pieris rapae
Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae
Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria


All from casual day-time records only.

The ‘Group’ letters are taken from the system devised by Dr. A.N.B.Simpson to determine the status of each species within the county: Group A being common, Group D extinct.

1Angle-shadesPhlogophora meticulosaGroup A
2Buff-tipPhalera bucephalaGroup A
3Beautiful Golden-YAutographa pulchrinaGroup A
4CinnabarTyria jacobaeaeGroup A
5Common CarpetEpirrhoe alternata alternataGroup A
6Common Marbled CarpetChloroclysta truncataGroup A
7Common White-waveCabera pusariaGroup A
8Common FootmanEilema lurideolaGroup A. Larval records only
9Hebrew CharacterOrthosia gothicaGroup A
10Knot GrassAcronicta rumicisGroup A
11Large Yellow UnderwingNoctua pronubaGroup A
12Light EmeraldCampaea margaritataGroup A
13Mottled BeautyAlcis repandata repandataGroup A
14Mother ShiptonCallistege miGroup B. Adult on 21.6.1998
15Oak NyceteolineNyceteola revayanaGroup B. Larva on oak, 4.8.1999
17Silver-YAutographa gammaGroup A
18Shaded Broad-barScotopteryx chenopodiataGroup A
19Scarce FootmanEilema complanaGroup A. Larval records only
20Small Yellow UnderwingPanemeria tenebrataGroup B. Adults on 18.5.1997. & 25.5.1998
21The DrinkerPhiludoria potatoriaGroup A. Larval records only
22The VapourerOrgyia antiquaGroup A
23Yellow-tailEuproctis similesGroup A. Larval records only
24Yellow ShellCamptogramma bilineata bilineataGroup A


One species of note recorded;

Cydia aurana. Tortricidae. One at Hogweed flowers on 24.5.1999.


Not surprisingly, this site is of little importance in so far as breeding is concerned, no significant bodies of water occur. This is reflected in the list below, however, it’s worth bearing in mind that it does provide a ‘food & rest’ station for any species prepared to wander between sites.

1Azure DamselflyCoenagrion puellaFrequent
2Banded DemoiselleAgrion splendensOne record, (female) on 19.6.1998
3Blue-tailed DamselflyIschnura elegansScarce
4>Broad-bodied ChaserLibellula depressaTwo records, (imm) on 18.5.1998, (female) on 21.6.1998
5Common blue DamselflyEnallagma cyathigerum Scarce, occasional male
6Common DarterSympetrum striolatumScarce
7Emerald DamselflyLestes sponsaOne record, (female) on 14.8.1999
8Large red DamselflyPyrrhosoma nymphulaTwo records, (female) on 25.5.1998, (female) on 6.6.1999
9Migrant HawkerAeshna mixtaOne record, on 16.8.1998
10Southern HawkerAeshna cyaneaOne record, on 2.8.1998
11White-legged DamselflyPlatycnemis pennipesNotable B. Four records of singles. June/July. An indication of how far this species will travel, the nearest breeding habitat must be about half a mile away at Bow Brook


Records from easily identified species or from slides determined by P.F. Whitehead. National status guides are taken from recognised coleoptera literature.

1Agonum dorsale. (Carabidae)Common.
2Anaglyptus mysticus. (Cerambycidae)Notable B. One, at Hogweed flowers, 6.6.1999
3Cryptocephalus pusillus. (Chrysomelidae)Local. A few at one Sallow
4Cantharis decipiens. (Cantharidae)Common
5Chrysolina oricalcia. (Chrysomelidae)Notable B. One photographed on Cow Parsley, 30.5.1998. & 12.6.1998
6Cantharis nigra. (Cantharidae)Common
7Calvia quattuordecimguttata. (Coccinellidae)Common
8Crioceris asparagi. (Chrysomelidae)Synanthropic. ‘Escaped’ asparagus plants flourish in places!
9Clytus arietis. (Cerambycidae)Common
10Grammoptera ruficornis. (Cerambycidae)Common
11Ischnomera cyanea. (Oedemeridae)Notable B. One photographed at Hogweed flowers, 31.5.1998. Also 6.6.1999
12Lagria hirta. (Tenebrionidae)Common
13Leptura livida. (Cerambycidae)Local. Two photographed on Mayweed flowers, 3.7.1999
14Lochmaea crataegi. (Chrysomelidae)Common
15Molorchus umbellatarum. (Cerambycidae)Notable A. One photographed at Hogweed flowers, 19.6.1998. Known to be associated with fruit trees
16Melolontha melolontha. (Scarabaeidae)Common
17Oedemera lurida. (Oedemeridae)Local
18Oedemera nobilis. (Oedemeridae)Local
19Phaedon tumidulus. (Chrysomelidae)Common
20Propylea quattuordecimpunctata. (Coccinellidae) Common
21Phytoecia cylindrica. (Cerambycidae)Notable B. Pr in- cop, photographed on Cow Parsley, 30.4.1999. Also 25.5.1999
22Rhynchites aequatus. (Attelabidae)Common
23Subcoccinella 24-punctata. (Coccinellidae)Common
24Stenocorus meridianus. (Cerambycidae)Local
25Tetrops praeusta. (Cerambycidae)Local. Only at a couple of old crab-apples and plums


A few easily recognised species.

1Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale. (Hawthorn Shieldbug)One record, on 14.5.1999
2Coreus marginatusTwo records on 27.9.1997, and one at blackberry fruit on 3.10.1998
3Deraeocoris ruber20
4Leptopterna dolobrataTwo photographed on 19.6.1998. (male & female)
5Miris striatusLOCAL. Up to three on Oak foliage, 23.5 & 25.5.1998. A very striking species
6Sehirus bicolour. (Pied Shieldbug)Frequent on White Deadnettle during April
7Palomena prasina. (Green Shieldbug)20


1StoatMustela nivalisOne seen on 15.3.1997

With grateful thanks to Mr. P.F.Whitehead for his determination of some of my slides.

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