Badger paw print. Courtesy Swift Ecology
ECOLOGY OF SUTTON WALLS.
The Conservation Group's aim is to produce a conservation plan that will look to balance the sensitive requirements of the rich archaeology and abundant natural history of this special site .
The group have started surveys to map the wildlife and build a profile over seasons. We are also building links with local wildlife groups, which will allow us to tap into their expertise and develop our own skills. An assessment of the trees will be needed with reference to health and safety, disease, ecological benefit and threat to archaeology.
Sutton Walls has a rich flora and fauna. In spring time, primroses, bluebells and daffodils can be seen. Trees include beautiful sweet chestnut, hazel, hawthorn, ash, field maple, pedunculate and sessile oaks, elm, spindle and a solitary black poplar. You may also notice plum and greengage trees on the ramparts. These were planted by Thomas Joseph Quarrell in 1917 and still produce lots of fruit.
Flowering plants found at different times through the year include scarlet pimpernel, perforate St John's-wort, cow parsley, smooth sow-thistle, dog rose and white campion, adding a splash of colour amongst the hedges and brambles. Ear fungus, dead man's fingers and common puffball provide some wonderfully bizarre fungal forms.
Bird life on the Walls is rich too. Records so far list common species such as blackbird, dunnock, robin and blue tit along with a few more exciting types such as great-spotted woodpecker, buzzard, green woodpecker, jay and goldcrest. Whitethroat, willow warbler, swallow and house martin have been seen during the summer months whilst winter brings fieldfare and redwings. The diversity of plant life also supports a healthy invertebrate community - common darter and southern hawker dragonflies share the airways with meadow brown, red admiral and speckled wood butterflies, to name just the tip of the iceberg.
Grey squirrels leap amongst the high branches, rabbits browse on the field margins and early risers might spot a fox on patrol. Sutton Walls is clearly an important site for a wonderful natural collection of species and we will certainly endeavour to maintain this.