05 Jul 2022

Wild About Wildlife: Nature warms up the chilly day

Wild About Wildlife: Nature warms up the chilly day

Wrap up and enjoy a winter's walk, there is a surprising amount of activity in nature at this time of year Picture: Pixabay

IGOT back into my walking after a brief break and it was something I have really missed. I decided to take it easy and short but the weather tested my resolve and it was bitterly cold.
I paused in the yard to check how the pots were faring. Most of the cuttings myself and Harry took last year have taken and are ready to be moved into the garden. These came for a variety of plants including roses, elderberry, Loniceria and honeysuckle. Taking cuttings is a great way to increase the variety of plants in your garden and these also make a beautiful green present at Christmas time.
Two tiny oaks were also waiting patiently in their pots to be planted but they are still a little small and they will spent the next few years In a nursery bed. When they reach about a meter in height I will find them a permanent position but this will require a least a four centuries of planning as oaks can easily liver that long.
The only flowers out was a single knapweed and there are no insect around to feed on its pollen and nectar. The old stems have become very scraggly and I will prune these back in the coming days.
I waited at the gate for the birds to finish the remains of breakfast. There was only one piece of waffle left but even the normally bold hooded crows were hesitant. I watched as he half approached before jumping back and the rooks and jackdaws were equally as cautious.
I could not figure out this strange behaviour until the neighbour’s cat suddenly darted out. This caused a big noisy black cloud to take off and they landed on the electricity wires where they gave loudly gave out.
A few corner later I came across a recently cut hedge. It had been skinned to the bone and there was not much shelter or food left for as bird, animal or man. While I agree hedges need to be cut for road and pedestrian safety I think there is a better method of achieving this.
Teagasc have produced very detailed information around how a hedge can be managed and still benefit wildlife while not becoming a danger to passing traffic and walkers.
This information is readily available and I am surprised that its recommendations are not been implemented throughout the countryside.
Hedges that have a wide base and a narrow top, basically A-shaped are the best for wildlife. This can be enhanced by leaving a few tall healthy trees like crab apple as song posts for birds. The wide base provides protection and nesting locations for birds and the narrowing towards the top keeps the hedge in check.
Traditionally this was achieved by hedge laying. When the hawthorn trees reached six or seven years the trunk was cut half way near the base.
The tree was then bent over and strong poles drove in every meter. This did not harm the hedge but created a strong and living structure that was stock proof and also a brilliant habitat for wildlife.
Managing our hedgerows is a great way to help our under pressure bees and birds. The grassy margin or long acre also has lots of native wildflowers and grasses that support insects and their lava through the year. I have seen a lot of households cutting this wildflower edge till all that remains is a neat and tidy lawn.

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