Posted on 25 March, 2016Comments (0)

Wildlife Support and Conservation

Wildlife Support and Conservation

ASH DIEBACK

I mentioned the devastation likely to be caused by the spread of Ash dieback, or Charlara Fraxinea, noted to be affecting trees in this country, in 2012. This disease has the potential to wipe out every tree in Britain and dozens of species that rely on their habitats. In fact, 995 species including Wood Mice, Bats, Squirrels, Beetles and wild birds on the Amber list have been found to use Ash trees as important habitats.

The disease affects leaf loss, crown dieback and bark lesions. Sadly, once a tree is affected, it is usually fatal and the tree is weakened to the point where it can be drastically affected by other pests or diseases. Professor Ian Bancroft (Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York) says, ‘Tree disease epidemics are a global problem, impacting food security, biodiversity and national economies’.

Researchers at the University of York have found genetic markers which can be used to predict whether an Ash sapling is resistant to the disease, and these trees can then be replanted to replace lost woodland. We also note that ‘Biochar’, a type of soil improver can be used around Ash saplings, and can prevent them from becoming infected.

BARN OWLS

Prior to development, a Barn Owl was seen in the eld off Brislands Lane, now the Charles Church development. It has also been seen on the SINC and woodland meadow which lies to the rear of the development. There are now only 4000 – 6000 pairs in the wild, and they rely on old barns, tree hollows and nesting boxes for roosting, and for rearing their young.

Barn Owls require rough grassland, scrubland, edge of woodland and eld margins and young tree plantations where they are able to hunt for Voles, Shrews, Wood mice and young Rats. The breeding season runs between March and April, but can be delayed if the weather is bad. There are usually between 4 – 6, white, oval eggs, and the incubation time is approximately 33 days.

They may have up to two broods a year, especially if weather conditions are good and there is plenty of food about. The young will edge at around 50 days old and eventually disperse to other areas. Unfortunately, we note that most young Owlets do not survive their first year in the wild. The lifespan of an adult is between 1 and 5 years, but in captivity they may live for twenty years or more.

These birds often have to cope with harsh weather conditions, but their general decline is attributed to increased traf c on our roads and motorways as they often hunt along open verges. Also loss of habitat and hedgerows, suitable roosting and nesting sites, has become a problem. We also note that Barn Owls may drown in water troughs or cattle troughs, so important to put a large oating object in the trough for the Owl to climb to safely should it fall in. It is also sad to note that every year a number of Barn Owls are unfortunately shot.

CHARLES CHURCH DEVELOPMENT

Fifty- ve residents have now received a wildlife lea et and pack with information for all species in the vicinity as requested by Charles Church last November. The wildlife pack contains information provided by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species for Dormice and Hedgehogs.

Hedgehog Street also supplied helpful information for making gardens Hedgehog friendly and suggest making a small hole, the size of a CD, so that Hedgehogs can pass from one garden to another. Hedgehogs also keep gardens free from slugs and snails, so a valuable friend to all gardeners. Buglife provided information for making gardens wildlife friendly, and for plants which will attract pollinators (Bees, Butter ies and other insects). We also supplied information for families with young children…’Who lives here? Fox, Rabbit or Badger’, and a lea et with animal tracks.

Many thanks to EHDC for making arrangements with the Parish Council to pay the cost of photocopying our Wildlife lea et with general information for new residents. The lea et contains information for wildlife corridors and protected hedgerows for Dormice, Badgers and other mammals, future maintenance and fencing, wild birds and feeders, and suggestions on how to protect wild birds and small mammals from predatory pet cats. Anyone who has recently moved to the village and would like a copy, please let me know. Further copies will be delivered to new residents on the development between March and June.

The hedgerow on the western boundary, compromised while dealing with a soak away, has now been replanted by Charles Church. Heras fencing which was in situ around the soak away and which also afforded the new saplings some protection is lying on the ground, but Charles Church con rm they will set it back in place until new fencing can be installed. A further Dormouse bridge will be required to provide connectivity until the hedgerow matures.

We have also asked residents to kindly avoid walking through the new hedgerow, and to access the Recreation Ground via the ‘Deer Crossing’ by the Visitor Centre. This is the natural pathway which has always been used by residents, and dog walkers, etc. We are advised that fencing around the Visitor Centre will be removed when construction work has been completed. It is noted that the section of protected hedgerow running through the centre of the site which should eventually provide important connectivity for Dormice, other small mammals, wild birds, insects, etc., contains a large amount of litter and a discarded ladder. We have asked Charles Church to remove the rubbish prior to fencing in further sections of the hedgerow.

[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]

Posted to The Villager and tagged with

Comments are disabled for this article.