Leaving what we can for nature

With autumn now upon us the weather is on the turn. The days are getting shorter and our farmers are busily bringing in the last of the pre-winter harvests.

Nature too is taking advantage of an abundance of food in our hedgerows and fields to prepare for the colder months ahead.

Creatures such as the tiny Harvest mouse, the Dormouse, the Wood Mouse as well as larger mammals such as the Grey Squirrel are all busy gathering and storing what they can for the leaner winter months and Hedgehogs are feeding up in preparation for hibernation. Many of our native bird species are filling up on the last of this year’s insects and starting to turn their attention to other food sources too.

For all these creatures, great and small, the ‘fruit’ that fall from our native trees, such as the Hazel or the Beach and the berries that are found in our hedgerow are a hugely important resource. The Hawthorn with its characteristic red berries, the Blackthorn with its deep blue sloes and the Elderflower with and its ruby red clusters of tiny fruit are all essential food sources.

Leaving hedgerow uncut where it is possible to do so, provides an over-wintering pantry for wildlife for this year. It also has the advantage of providing early blossom for pollinators come the spring. Remembering as well, that where we cut the hedges we will see no blossom and no berries the coming year.

As we cut the hedgerow and neaten up our farms, parks and gardens, we are actually depriving many creatures of the essential food they need to survive.  We also fail to help ourselves by reducing the number of pollinating insects that we will see come the spring to pollinate the crops in our fields.

Of great importance too are the field margins that some farmers are kind enough to leave unsprayed and unploughed. These contain wildflowers and grasses that, when they go to seed, provide sustenance for mammals, birds and insects alike.

Di Wheatley