HARDINGTON WILDLIFE IN FEBRUARY

The author - Mike Bickerton

British landscape is wonderful, and in spite of being overpopulated and swamped with concrete and tarmac is quite unique. Visitors come from around the world to enjoy it. On a short journey one sees different scenery and habitat round every corner.

Our hedgerows stand out as being different to other countries and provide good habitats for all sorts of wildlife if well managed. Mr Gove, our environment minister, is talking about giving the countryside much more help after Brexit, including protecting green spaces and paying farmers for planting trees and wildflowers, and looking after their hedges, which is very good news if it happens! It is good to see that some farmers are now cutting hedges on a 2 or 3 year rotation instead of annually. This promotes flowers and berries and also cutting to an A shape gives a thicker hedge and barrier to contain livestock. Most hedges are now cut by machine, which is very efficient, but cutting to the same height every year results in 6ft sticks with a fuzz of branches on top but nothing underneath.

After a lot of cold and dismal weather, a brief spell of sunshine has woken bumblebees and peacock butterflies, and a blackbird is building a nest in our pyracantha bush. This all seems very early, but perhaps these creatures know something that we don't, and maybe Spring is just around the corner.

In Hatherstone Wood there are two more conservation working days this Spring when we will be coppicing Hazel. Another pleasant task will be to increase snowdrops by breaking up large clumps into lots of smaller ones. All you need for this job is a hand fork and perhaps a kneeler. We hope to see a good turnout of volunteers on the 3rd and 17th of March.

Mike Bickerton, February 2018.