Posted on 27 February, 2016Comments (0)

Wildlife Support & Conservation

Wildlife Support & Conservation

Information for Butterfly Conservation’s Educational Visit has now been sent to Primary Schools in Four Marks, Medstead, Bentworth, Ropley, Chawton and Selborne. This is our follow up to the Butterfly Colouring Competition we ran in 2014/15 to involve school children in local Neighbourhood Plans. Mobile visits will be arranged between April and September this year.

Butterfly Conservation provide an Interactive presentation on butterfly and moth cycles, habitats, food plants and adaptation, and games for species identification and life cycles. There is an introduction to live specimens which involves a ‘hands on’ experience in a butterfly/moth tent. Children are given the opportunity to create a ‘Megapillar’ and their teacher is provided with a butterfly poster, butterfly and moth ID guides, and other helpful information.

We are also supplying information to residents on the new Medstead Farm estate and a Wildlife Display is being arranged for the Charles Church Visitor Centre. Bird feeders have already been delivered to some families, so they can encourage more wild birds into their gardens. We are also preparing a leaflet, so that new residents will have more information about the wildlife on their doorsteps.

HBIC (Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre) have also been in contact and are preparing a ‘flyer’, so that residents with the rare orchid, the Violet Helleborine, on verges near their properties in Alton Lane, Telegraph Lane, Blackberry Lane and Swelling Hill, will also be properly informed about the status of this plant, how it should be protected and when verges will be cut.

I mentioned the importance of tree and hedgerow planting in last month’s issue. Not only will a hedge absorb a considerable amount of water, it will provide protection and an essential windbreak for areas in Four Marks and South Medstead which have been more exposed to recent strong winds. Hedgerows are also a very attractive feature of the landscape. The CPRE says they are, ‘the stitching that holds together England’s much- loved patchwork landscape’, and asks us to help protect them for the future.

Hedgerows also mark boundaries, provide shelter for livestock and crops, and will even reduce soil erosion. Their shape and composition also provides information about local history. A perfectly formed, ancient hedgerow can contain a diverse number of species, and almost flows into a meadow. Hedgerows provide flowers in early Spring for pollinators, and bear fruits and nuts in the Autumn for wild birds and small mammals. They are also vital habitats for wildlife and are important for wild flowers, birds and insects. They also act as vital wildlife corridors for our protected Dormice, Hedgehogs and other small mammals to move around the countryside, and around many developments in our villages.

After a very windy and stormy day on February 8, when storm Imogen rattled our doors, it was wonderful to walk in the countryside on a sunny, and much calmer day on February 9. Passing by a rather dull, brown, Beech hedgerow at Swelling Hill, I was reminded of the importance of hedgerows by the sound of immensely loud chirping made by a large flock of excitable Hedge Sparrows.

The Saxon name for hedge is Haga, and other place names are Haigh, Hayes and Hawes. Below is a picture of a hedgerow on the western boundary of the cricket pitch in Four Marks, where some extra planting would benefit wildlife as well as cricketers. Compare this with a picture of the wonderfully, dense hedgerow on the southern boundary.

We note that a planning application has been submitted for a field adjacent to the Trinity Stables development at Medstead. Access is via a small gateway previously used by animals grazing in the field. Should this planning application be approved, it would be necessary to create a much larger space for construction vehicles. Sadly, as we have noted in the past, once a hedgerow has been destroyed, it is very difficult to replace.

The future of the Harvest Mouse was thought to be rather bleak, but due to the hard work of villagers, landowners and conservationists in Selborne, 150 nests have been noted as part of a recent survey.

The Harvest Mouse has had to contend with changes in agricultural management, but by establishing important buffer strips around fields, and planting and relaying hedgerows, a connected habitat has been created for small mammals which has benefited this tiny rodent.

We note that Gilbert White first identified the Harvest Mouse in Selborne, in 1767. White collected nests and studied them. He described them as, ‘perfectly round, and about the size of a cricket ball’. Many thanks to Simon Thomas and Malcolm Seal for bringing this matter to our attention!

Diana Tennyson

[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 

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