Turn left over the bridge at the rear of the mill and you will come to the ‘Wildlife Area’. This area had become very overgrown and has been redeveloped over the last two years to give safe access to an interesting site. The aim is to encourage wildlife to populate the area and to give visitors ideas about how they might develop parts of their own gardens to improve the habitat for plants and animals.
The area includes a small pond which attracts insects and amphibians. There are several wood piles, some of them old and rotting, some newly cut. These attract insects and birds. There are dense brush areas and swathes of long grasses. Access to the different areas is by mown paths. There is a ‘wildlife hotel’ which has been converted from a brick barbeque. It has many levels and a wide choice of habitats. Small sheets of corrugated iron have been placed around the site. These warm up in the morning sun and are a haven for voles, slow worms, toads and numerous insects. The sheets can be lifted carefully to observe the ‘residents’.
The site lacked sunlight as it was dominated by very old large wild plum trees. These have been trimmed back and rotten branches have been moved to make the site safer and to allow in much more light. The remaining trees should now have a new lease of life. The white plum flowers in spring attract bees and other insects. The small yellow ‘mirabelle’ plums give autumn and winter food for many animals.
The dense grass growth was cut down in places to allow space for wild flowers to grow. In 2017 over forty species were counted. They include primroses, bluebells, poppies, arum lilies, cornflowers, corn marigolds and oxe-eye daisies. Some less common plants include viper’s bugloss, corn-cockle, and valerian. A few non-native plants have appeared and been allowed to grow e.g. buddleias which are very attractive to bees and butterflies.
The mill volunteers have created a path on the South-East side of the mill pond. This will create a circular walk for visitors, so they can go all the way around the mill pond. With some interesting old trees the kids are sure to love exploring along this nature walk, while adults will enjoy the views it offers.