Community Wildlife Area – December 2020

View from The Wildlife Patch

As we move into the last month of 2020 our thoughts are of the approaching Christmas and the New Year of 2021.

At “The Patch” we are planning for 2021 already. We agreed from the start that our goal is to provide a haven for what is now termed “Bio diversity” and to make it accessible to all residents of Nether Heyford.

This is being achieved by providing a number of “Mini Habitats” joining to make one larger habitat. Earlier in November our management team of four agreed this is still the best approach to achieve our goal.

At the narrow end of the patch there are some young Elms which have died after falling victim to Elm Bark Beetle. When these become likely to fall we will cut these into logs to leave in strategic places as seats and to provide cover for insects other invertebrates. There is a mown patch at that end with a bench. That area will be planted with a few trees to form a very small spinney. The bench will be moved to the pond edge where visitors can sit to enjoy the rich pond life. It is known that ponds act as a sort of “Insect chimney” attracting many species of insect. These in turn encourage Bats and insect feeding birds among others.

We have all enjoyed the rich Flora and accompanying Fauna provided by the “cornfield Annuals” wild flower mix.. We agreed to maintain an “annual patch” by removing the vegetation form the current patch. We will then cultivate the soil and plant new seeds each year. These will provide a rich and varied diet for flying insects whilst instilling a sense of well-being into human visitors who choose to spend time there.

Another plot will be managed as “Meadow” This has already been planted with a native Meadow Seed Mix of native grasses and broad leaved plants. We intend to mow this with a Brushcutter each August. The action of this should be “scythelike” causing little harm to any insect larvae etc. attached to the grass. After drying out, the “Hay” will be piled up close to the hedge where it will become haven to vertebrates and invertebrates alike.

We will try to maintain a very short, even bare, earth patch for some species of mining bee that need that habitat. The pond will sit in the midst of all this – as it does now – and we will continue to add native plants to the pond and the pond edge as these become available.

The remainder will be a “Tussock” type of habitat. That is mostly long grass, not cut at all on any regular basis. This type of habitat has the potential to be the most biologically diverse next to the pond. providing homes for Voles, Shrews, Mice, Large Ground Beetles and many more. These otherwise would not thrive on the patch. This tussock habitat will comprise several patches of ground joined up by narrower corridors to connect the whole into one larger habitat.

As now footpaths will remain cut into the sward to enable visitors free passage from habitat to habitat. All will converge at the pond.

We need to place bits of wood, bark,stone etc. lying around for insects, Woodlice, Centipedes, Amphibians etc. to hide under.

We look forward to seeing you there in 2021.

On behalf of the Team may I take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Mary, Mark, Pauline & Dave

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