The Great Cornard Information Website

Home Page

Table of Contents

Helping Wildlife Index

Helping Wildlife (2005)

Page updated - 02 October 2009

For further information - Suffolk Wildlife Trust on 01473 890089 or Suffolk Wildlife Trust Website

Cornard News - This advice was previously published in Cornard News

2005 Spring

Issue 21


Snowdrops, aconites, crocuses, the first daffodil and, two robins in the garden? Spring is on its way! Here are a few ideas for helping wildlife in and around your garden during this exciting season.

As conditions improve and you are tempted into the garden, please remember some bird species nest as early as February, so please closely examine any shrubs or trees you need to cut back. Later in spring the same precautions should be exercised for ground hugging shrubs and foliage. These habitats can be nest sites for hedgehogs and possibly robins.

Please consider bird and bat boxes in suitable locations – lack of good nest sites has an impact on population sizes of many species of our wildlife. If you wish to erect bat boxes an advice sheet is available, please call the number below. Fact sheets are also available for pond creation and management.

Reptiles and amphibians will emerge from hibernation during mild weather in the second half of February, frogs and toads have a strong homing instinct and when mature will make their way back to the pond in which they were born (hence the ‘toads on roads’ problem) for spawning. If a pond has been discontinued that was home to amphibians, do consider installing a small water feature in the approximate position of the original pond. Quite small areas of water will suffice for frogs and common newts to spawn, great crested newts and toads will select a slightly larger area if available.

Habitat loss has reduced food availability in the wild, and therefore impacts on survival rates of nestling birds, so it is important to provide food for birds all year. As mentioned in previous editions compost heaps (in preference to plastic containers), apart from harbouring amphibians and reptiles, will contain a host of invertebrates that are important in themselves and provide a natural food source for many birds. The use of chemicals in gardens as well as in agriculture and by local authorities has seriously diminished food sources, so by creating a compost heap and caring for a corner devoted to native flowers (alright, weeds then) you will provide a great service for much of our wildlife.

This is a personal view but I find it very amusing to see plants for sale in garden centres that are close relatives of, or differ by selection only, to our wild plants/weeds; no doubt these are purchased by some who have battled to eradicate the wild, but very similar version from their garden – very strange behaviour!


A final plea: Butterfly recorders for the Cornard area are still required. This is a very pleasant task to perform and fundamental to the survival of our butterfly species – if interested please contact me during the day (01787) 376655 or (01787) 374874 in the evenings after 8pm.


 George Millins – Local Conservationist


2005 Summer

Issue 22


Although winter is now little more than a memory, do continue to feed the birds. Their source of food, foraging habitat, is now much diminished and the young, baby birds, need to be fed so they can fully develop ready for next winter. A birdbath, for drinking and bathing, helps our feathered friends enormously and provides a very amusing and decorative feature for any garden. My birdbath is so frequently used it is now necessary to clean and refill twice daily and a second has been installed in the front garden. Cleaning is quick & simple using a hand brush.


Bird’s nests are likely to be situated in shrubs and trees that you are about to cut down or prune heavily. Dense fir trees are favourite sites in and around the gardens so please try to tolerate that leylandii that may have outgrown its welcome, at least until October. Search ground covering vegetation before cutting, it could be home to Mrs Hedgehog and family or she may have chosen an old shed particularly if it has a wooden floor raised a little from the ground. Ground cover can often provide nest sites for robins; so do be vigilant, a little time spent on observation before starting work may prevent a tragedy. If you are lucky enough to have amphibians or reptiles in or around your garden the same ground cover will provide a good refuge for these animals, so please be aware and careful.


The term ‘habitat loss’ has become an all too common phrase now but it is not entirely bad news. Some wildlife consultants are negotiating with developers & building site owners to save and improve strips of habitat to retain species native to the site. I am personally involved in one such project locally where the Common Lizard (now not so common) exist. Locally, these and other reptiles have lost most of their natural habitat to development so it is encouraging to witness some provision being made on the new development sites.


The Adder (Vipera berus) is a shy, sensitive, retiring reptile not at all aggressive and much persecuted due to ignorance & intolerance. Adders have not been reliably recorded in the Sudbury area for more than 15 years and although venomous, historically, there have been far more fatalities resulting from bee stings or falling off a pushbike. If anyone has any reliable information about recent sightings of this protected and in this part of Suffolk, now rare species, please call me, or Suffolk Wildlife Trust, to enable any lingering population to be preserved. This is now an urgent request!


For any information on helping and attracting wildlife to your garden, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, on 01473 890089, provides a range of fact sheets for most aspects of wildlife, these fact sheets are free on request.


Finally, a big thank you to Mary and Michael of Sheepshead Hill for responding so enthusiastically to the request for butterfly recorders in the Cornard area. Their efforts will help butterfly conservation enormously and provide much joy and pleasure in the process.


You can contact me during the day (01787) 376655 or (01787) 374874 in the evenings.


George Millins – Local Conservationist


2005 Autumn

Issue 23


My last article referred again to the cutting of trees & shrubs etc. during the nesting season; in the light of recent events in Sudbury the comment was tragically prophetic. The large fir trees in Sudbury Town Centre between Cornard Road and Newton Road would certainly have contained active birds nests. The tragedy would have been twofold, the slaughter of the young birds and the anxiety of the parents. An IQ about 10 should be enough to realise birds were still nesting, even so I would prefer to assume ignorance not callousness prompted the felling of these trees and equal blame must be born by those who authorised the cutting and those who carried out the unfortunate destructive deed. It is appropriate to include a reminder about premature tree cutting but this event has proved to be an all too graphic one. The destruction of active birds nests is an offence but, of course, evidence would be required to prove prior knowledge. To prevent a repeat of this disaster, please put pen to paper and express your feelings to the local authorities (who?).


A quick reminder that will save many creatures and their young from an unsavoury end – if you must burn piles of garden waste, remember they are likely to contain many small mammals plus any reptiles (particularly grass snake and their eggs) or amphibians present in your locality. Break down the heaps carefully and burn some distance away, better still, dispose of the waste immediately before animals can use it as a home.


You can contact me on (01787) 374874 or mobile 07970295426.


George Millins – Local Conservationist


2005 Winter

Issue 24


It is difficult to produce a seasonable conservation article without being repetitive year on year as the same threats and dangers to wildlife from human activities occur on an annual basis. In fact they have increased significantly in recent decades and the actions to benefit wildlife tend to fall into seasonable patterns also. In an effort to avoid undue repetition a brief list of do’s & don’ts seems appropriate: dangers to wildlife in and around your garden and mitigating actions to be implemented.


Compost heaps, piles of branches etc. may well contain hibernating mammals, reptiles or amphibians, so try to leave undisturbed until mild conditions after mid March. If disposal of these materials in necessary, carefully break down and burn elsewhere or better still take to the recycling centre.


If while digging or moving rubble, stones or paving slabs, amphibians or reptiles are found, move them to an area that will remain undisturbed until next Spring and try to re-create as closely as possible the conditions in which the animal was found. Remember the animal must be able to emerge next Spring so make sure the soil above, and beneath if under a slab or similar refuge, is of a light & preferably sandy nature. Lack of good nesting sites resulting in the construction of nests in sub-optimum locations is a factor in the declining bird populations. Placing nest boxes in the Winter months provide time for prospective tenants to familiarise themselves so success is more likely.


George Millins – Local Conservationist