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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Giving nature a helping hand

We are very lucky here to have a huge garden with a lot of natural habitat for the wildlife, but there has to be a happy medium between land that we can enjoy ourselves and get around in yet still have plenty of wild patches where creatures can go to hibernate, nest or pupate without fear of being disturbed. So, on the one hand where I may be clearing up a load of brambles and twiggy stuff from around my perimeter fence or principal pathways, I may well pile some of it up in an undisturbed corner somewhere else where it can rot down over time. I have a pile like this from a few years back just chucked over the top of a rotting tree trunk on its side and now it's all covered in fallen leaves I can see an entrance hole that something has made to the interior.

We have some stragically placed mini log piles here and there in amongst the trees with spaces for little things to get into, which is now all covered in ivy so there's even more protection. We inherited a pile of logs when we bought the house which turned out to be pretty well rotten and not much good for firewood, so it all got restacked and this area is left wild with bracken and brambles to do what it likes and I hope it's full of beetles and little mousey things and hedgehogs making the most of it. We do have hedgehogs living in the garden which is great but how do I know that - because they leave disgusting poos all over the place! Plus I've seen them!

We also put a couple of nest boxes up in some trees facing east but there's no sign of anything having used them, other than some peck marks around the entrance hole. Maybe this is a good sign, as there are several dead or dying trees full of holes which the birds love and hopefully they are nesting in them. Our oldest apple in the woodland, which doesn't flower any more and has a dead branch that needs taking off before it falls and damages the living part of the tree, was being inspected by a blue tit the other day. When it flew off I had a better look and hadn't noticed these holes before!

I collect tons of fallen wood for kindling obviously but there are always lots of twigs for the birds to use and I can see all the messy nests that the magpies and crows make up in the tops of the trees. And of course the good old ivy taking over my trees that I pathetically try to control is magnificent for the little birds to nest in amongst and there will always be tons of ivy for them (there are not enough hours in the year for me to get all the ivy off all of the trees - it would be a bit like painting the Golden Gate Bridge I reckon!).

This does look like a jungle, but
it is a great place for birds to nest unseen

There are many species of bees in the garden and our new project is a 'bee hotel'. A friend on a Brittany forum got my interest piqued as I used to have one of these, but had to leave it behind when we moved here as there were bees in residence. However they are easy to make (if you are, or have, a Project Man that is!) so my new box is already half made, and is just waiting for me to select some old broken bamboo canes to use, plus raspberry canes when it is time to cut them and elder, which is supposed to be good too. A good link with loads of info about building them plus other information on wildlife friendly gardens is here.

The blocks will be drilled with different sized
drill bits for different kinds of bees, plus
canes of different diameters placed above

Then there's all the foodstuffs of various different birds, insects and caterpillars, which I hope I leave enough of or try to provide (and no I'm not talking about the cabbage white caterpillars - god knows they get plenty!) plus plenty of nectar rich flowers for the bees and butterflies and other pollinating insects, but I'll waffle about that another time!

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