There is so much to see in and around Chappel you’d be amazed. From a rare glimpse of a Great Crested Newt to the soaring silhouette of a kestrel hunting for its food, you’re bound to spot some wildlife.
If it’s more flora rather than fauna that you’re interested in, then you can spot some rarities in Chappel too.
Listed below are some things you can see, and others that live in Chappel, but are more elusive.
Often seen hunting over the wildlife area of Millennium Green in the soft summer sunshine in late June, the Barn Owl is a perennial favourite.
With heart shaped face, buff back and wings and pure white under parts the barn owl is a distinctive and much loved countryside bird. Widely distributed across the UK, and indeed the world, the bird has suffered declines over the past fifty years as a result of the degradation of once prey-rich habitats in the face of intensive agricultural practices. This decline, fortunately, has halted in many areas and the population may now be increasing.
Like the Barn Owl, this is another raptor. It’s a familiar sight with its pointed wings and long tail, hovering beside a roadside verge. Kestrels have been recently declining as a result of habitat degradation due to continuing intensive management of farmland but have adapted readily to man-made environments and can survive right in the centre of cities.
It is one of the commonest countryside birds of prey, found from coast to hilltop, nesting almost everywhere there is a suitable nest site with areas of open, rough ground to feed over. In towns and cities they will feed over parks and gardens. Kestrels nest either in holes or on ledges. These may be in natural places such as on cliffs or in trees where birds use either tree holes or the nests of other birds such as crows. They frequently also use man-made sites such as church spires and other tall buildings and even more unusual locations including pylons, cranes and even a window box!
Kingfishers are small unmistakable bright blue and orange birds of slow moving or still water. They fly rapidly, low over water, and hunt fish from riverside perches, occasionally hovering above the waters surface. They are a vulnerable to hard winters and habitat degradation through pollution or unsympathetic management of watercourses.
From February onwards the male has a trilling song, a modulated repetition of many whistles. He also signals with a whistle to the female when he is feeding her, this being his share of the nesting duties. This whistle is produced even when his bill is loaded with food, yet is clear and distinct. The female will reply and emerge from the nesting hole, and may fly to meet him, take the fish from him in the air, and return to the nest.
The bird has regular perches or stands from which it fishes. These may be a few inches or many feet above the water. It sits upright, its tail pointed downwards. It drops suddenly with a splash and usually returns at once with a struggling captive.
Rabbits are small, grey-brown mammals. As a lagomorph, they have four sharp incisors (two on top, two on bottom) that grow continuously throughout their life, and two peg teeth on the top behind the incisors, dissimilar to those of rodents (which have only 2 each, top and bottom). Rabbits have long ears, large hind legs, and short, fluffy tails. Rabbits move by hopping, using their long and powerful hind legs. To facilitate quick movement, a rabbit’s hind feet have a thick padding of fur to dampen the shock of rapid hopping. Their toes are long, and are webbed to keep from spreading apart as the animal jumps.
Rabbits are known by many names. Young rabbits are known by the names bunny, kit, or kitten. A male rabbit is called a buck, and a female rabbit is called a doe. A group of rabbits is known as a herd. Colloquially, a rabbit may be referred to as a coney or a bunny, though the former is archaic.
European Rabbits are well-known for digging networks of burrows called warrens, where they spend most of their time when not feeding. Unlike the related hares (Lepus), rabbits are altricial, the young being born blind and furless, in a fur-lined nest in the warren, and totally dependent upon their mother.
But did you know that in 2004 there were approximately 40 million rabbits?
Great Crested Newt
Great crested newts are Britains largest newt species. Although now afforded some legal protection in the UK, populations have declined over recent years as a result of the destruction and fragmentation of their habitat.
Great crested newts have dark grey-brown backs and flanks, and are covered with darker coloured spots so that they appear almost black in colour. They also have fine white spots on their lower flanks, which are more obvious in breeding males.
Their undersides are either yellow or orange-coloured and are covered in large black blotches. Males can be distinguished from females by the presence of a jagged crest that runs along their backs, dipping at the rear of the abdomen to a smoother-edged crest above and below the tail. They also have a silver-grey stripe that runs along the tail. The males crest is more pronounced during the breeding season, and lies flat to the body when the newt is out of water. Females lack a crest, but have a yellow-orange stripe along the lower edge of their tails.
Great crested newts are nocturnal, hiding on land during the day in burrows or under logs, stones and vegetation. They hibernate between October and late February, usually on land under piles of leaves or logs, or inside hollow tree stumps and stone walls, although some may hibernate in the mud of a pond bed. When newts come out of hibernation they head for their breeding sites, spending the days in deeper water and moving into the shallows at night to breed. Newts have been found to return annually to the same breeding grounds, although colonisation of new sites is thought to occur through the dispersion of newly mature adults.
Please see the separate article in this section.
On a herbal level, willow bark has been used for its pain-relieving qualities for at least 2,000 years. The Salix alba (white willow, withe, withy) contains salicin, which is converted to salicylic acid in the body. Salicylic acid is closely related to aspirin, the synthetic drug that has displaced willow bark from popular use.
The White Willow is a willow native to Europe, and western and central Asia. It is a large deciduous tree up to 20-30 m tall. The name derives from the leaves, which are paler than most other willows, due to a covering of very fine silky white hairs, particularly on the underside. The leaves are typically 5-10 cm long and 1-1.5 cm wide. The shoots in the typical species are grey-brown to green-brown. The flowers are catkins, produced in early spring.
Hippocrates, a Greek physician for whom the Hippocratic Oath is named, wrote in the 5th century BC about a bitter powder extracted from willow bark that could ease aches and pains and reduce fevers. This remedy is also mentioned in texts from ancient Sumeria, Egypt and Assyria. Native American Indians used it for headaches, fever, sore muscles, rheumatism, and chills. The Reverend Edward Stone, a vicar from Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire England, noted in 1763 that the bark of the willow was effective in reducing a fever.
The active extract of the bark, called salicin, after the Latin name for the White willow (Salix alba), was isolated to its crystalline form in 1828 by Henri Leroux, a French pharmacist, and Raffaele Piria, an Italian chemist, who then succeeded in separating out the acid in its pure state. Salicin is highly acidic when in a saturated solution with water and is called salicylic acid for that reason. This is the precursor to modern aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid).