While many animals become less active in the winter there is still plenty of survey work that can be done during the winter months. Therefore now is the time to plan your winter ecology survey works and avoid potential delays later.
Planning ahead and undertaking the certain surveys that can be done at this time of year can help avoid unnecessary delays, with planning applications for instance, and allow any other survey work required within the spring/summer season to be scheduled in early.
For an overview of the seasonal timings for ecology work for all species please see our Ecology Survey Calendar
As the festive season is nearly upon us I wish all a healthy, happy and restful break it will be well deserved.
Since the year 2000 Hedgehogs have declined by a third in urban areas and up to 75% in the countryside.
Causes of hedgehog declines:
- Widespread use of pesticides and slug pellets can poison animals and kills the invertebrates hedgehogs eat
- Larger field sizes makes it difficult for hedgehogs to move around the landscape
- Hedgerow management by flailing now leads to the hedges with gappy bases, poor for nesting
- Intensive management of pastures with herbicides and fertilizers reduce the number of invertebrates for hedgehogs to eat
- Impermeable garden fencing and walls limits the area of connected land available
- Gardens lost to car parking or decking directly reduces foraging area
- Busy roads cause mortalities and they can also disrupt dispersal routes for hedgehogs
- New developments usually lack any connectivity between gardens
- Hibernation habitat, typically scrubby or brambly areas, are frequently lost through over management or development
- Over-tidy gardening can remove dead wood, replace foraging areas with drives and decking and clear away overgrown corners
What can we do to help to encourage and keep Hedgehogs in our gardens and countryside?
- Link your garden – Hedgehogs roam between 1-2km each night during their active season. It’s therefore critical that they can access a wide range of gardens and avoid having to pass across busy roads. 13cm x 13cm (CD sized) holes in walls or fences will let hedgehogs through but be too small for most pets. If you’ve made a hole in your garden wall or fence please visit www.hedgehogstreet.org to put it on their map.
- Make your pond safe – Hedgehogs are adept swimmers, but if they can’t climb out of steep-sided ponds or pools they will drown. Use a pile of stones, a piece of wood or some chicken wire to create a simple ramp.
- Create a wild corner – in your garden or in the extensive parish green space – Let the plants go mad in a corner of your garden, and don’t cut them back in winter and hedgehogs might nest here. They’ll also bene t from the abundant insects. Use branches to add structure easily done in our various woodland open spaces.
- Deal with netting and litter – Hedgehogs are prone to getting tangled. Polystyrene cups, plastic, and elastic bands are all common offenders. Replace netting with a rigid structure or use a thick cordage and keep taut. Sports netting should be tied up or stored inside when not in use.
- Put out food and water – Hedgehogs really bene t from extra food, using it as a supplement to their natural diet. Meaty cat or dog food, hedgehog food, meal worms and chopped, unsalted peanuts are all suitable. Water can also be scarce at certain times of the year and is the only thing you should give them to drink (NEVER MILK and BREAD).
- Stop using chemicals in gardens, playing fields and sports pitches – Lawn treatments reduce worm populations. Pesticides, insecticides and slug pellets are toxic and reduce the invertebrates hedgehogs’ eat. They are all unnecessary in a healthy, well-balanced garden.
- Check before strimming – Hedgehogs will not run away from the sound of a mower or strimmer – check before you cut and avoid causing horrific injuries or death. Single hedgehogs are easily moved, but use gloves! Moving a hedgehog family is more complicated and ideally, they should be left undisturbed.
- Be careful with bonfires – Piles of debris are irresistible to a hedgehog looking for somewhere to hibernate or nest – build it on the day of burning or move the pile on the day of burning to avoid a tragic end.
- Building a log pile or compost heap – One of the best features for encouraging all kinds of wildlife – and so easy to make. It will encourage insects and provide nesting opportunities all year round. It makes good use of the woodland cutting in our open spaces.
- Install a Hedgehog box – The best way to provide a nesting option for hedgehogs is by creating a natural feature, such as a compost heap or log pile, as this has the added benefit of encouraging insect prey too. Artificial hedgehog houses (or hibernacula) are also used by hedgehogs and can be really fun to make. If you leave a messy patch in a quiet undisturbed area of your garden then hedgehogs might make their own nest there either to hibernate in or to rear their young. However, if you want to improve your chances of having a resident hedgehog you could either buy or make them a home.
For more details check out the following web sites: