Community Wildlife Area – March 2020

View from The Wildlife Patch

I have never really explained the underpinning belief that provides our framework for planning development of The Wildlife patch. Before Spring “springs” and there are many other subjects waiting to be aired I will now attempt to remedy this.

You will already know that as a team we seek to recreate local habitats (often “micro habitats”) that existed on this site in past times. In doing this we try to provide as many ecological niches as we can in the available area. Before doing this we consider likely species and their lifestyles. We know that each species needs its` own unique conditions in order to thrive. They need to eat and to drink, they need to be safe night and day, winter and summer and they need to perpetuate their species. Each species needs to do this without competing with other species.

We narrow our search to seeking to attract sustainable populations of insects and invertebrates. Some would ask “Why focus on these? Why not try to attract Birds or Mammals? Or a really varied flora maybe?”

The answer is that Invertebrates (insects are invertebrates) underpin the entire Ecosystem of life on Earth. Life on Earth depends on Invertebrates thriving. A recent study measured the effect of restoring neglected farm ponds. This demonstrated an increase of insects due to this restoration which led to an increase both in numbers and in species of Farmland Birds feeding nearby. They attributed this rise in birds to the rise in insects numbers stating that these creatures (invertebrates) are “at the very heart of nature’s food web) (Waterlife Magazine, Spring 2020).

We believed this when we put the wildlife pond on the site but it is gratifying to see good research supporting this belief. The same report found that active ponds can act as “insect chimneys” pouring vastly greater numbers of insects into the surrounding countryside. We decided to put our pond in as there had previously been a brook flowing alongside the patch. We could not recreate the brook so a pond is the next best thing. In addition to the pond we have piles of logs-and are hoping for more. We have a pile of dry grass mowings with a hedgehog nest box inside. It is used by something, maybe not hedgehog. We are intending to create and maintain a bare earth area for Mining Bees, maybe a sandy patch as well. We already have 4 or 5 bird boxes ready for occupation.

The area is just entering its second year as a Wildlife Patch so is still in its infancy. Necessarily we have destroyed some good habitat in creating the pond and reshaping that area generally to provide better habitat. It will be interesting to find at the end of next year if we still have our 19 species of butterfly etc. on the site. Our hope is that due to work completed in this first year the count will rise and continue to rise in following years. That will be the measure of our progress to an ideal species rich local habitat.

Dave Musson

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