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Helping Wildlife (2006)

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

2006 Spring

Issue 25


Development has now started on the Bures Road site adjacent to the Brook Inn pub and school field, a site of roughly 35 acres, which includes the old rugby pitch. This represents a serious habitat loss to many species of birds present & nesting on site, also the badgers, stoats, weasels, woodmice, bank voles, field voles, common shrew, pygmy shrew, toads & two species of reptile all in residence on this site. The badgers & reptiles are protected by law, the latter I have help capture for translocation to approved safe sites. A small population of frogs & toads are also present, a good variety of invertebrates, including wasp spider have been found. Any amphibians that were not caught & removed, also the invertebrates, rabbits & other mammals, all of which burrow, with the exception of the badgers, will be sadly lost under the tracks of the bulldozers.


Further development is planned for Cornard, Great Waldingfield, Acton, Sudbury and of course most towns & villages in the South East & East Anglia. Many sites are Brownfield sites with rough grass & scrub, so valuable to wildlife, have dramatically diminished in the recent decades. This further loss of important habitat is likely to result in the extinction of some species in many districts. However, with determination and a little sound basic knowledge of the requirements of our wildlife, significant mitigation measures are possible to implement in and around your home & garden, the local school, village hall, sports field & especially churchyards. Some wildlife will escape from the development sites but if suitable habitat is not available in that area they will not survive. Please ask yourselves. Am I willing to modify the management of my garden, allotment, sports field or churchyard to provide a home for these refugees? If you wish to help but need advice please call the numbers below, advice & information sheets on many aspects of wildlife are given free from Suffolk Wildlife Trust.


A few basic but effective measures should include: an area of rough grass (if space allows) divided into three or four sections, one section cut once each year NO CLOSER THAN 10cm (4”), this cutting regime will help preserve the invertebrates, small mammals & any amphibians or reptiles present. Plant a thorny shrub such as Hawthorn or Pyrocanther (native hawthorn is preferable) and these will provide fruit & protective nests for birds. Ivy & bramble are incredibly valuable to many species and you might consider these as part of your hedge. A pile of logs or branches exposed to morning sun, a compost heap (not container) and a pond for amphibians with shallow areas for birds to drink & bath. Bat boxes & a variety of bird boxes will help replace lost roosting & nesting habitats even if there is little or no garden, boxes & feeders can be wall mounted. For locally made and sensibly priced bird or bat boxes call Anne or Geoff on (01787) 375377.


Specialist seedeaters, insectivores & fruit eaters will take sunflower hearts. Remember to wash feeders more frequently during wet spells as dirty feeders with decaying food can cause an outbreak of bacteria. Also sweep the areas below the feeders from time to time, as some species such as Dunnock & Collared Dove prefer gleaning from the ground below the feeders & for this reason it is advisable to reposition them after a few weeks.


For help & advice call Suffolk Wildlife Trust on 01473 890089 or me on (01787) 374874 / (Mob) 07970 295 426.


George Millins – Local Conservationist.


2006 Summer

Issue 26


After a protracted winter resulting from persistent north and east winds through late Feb & March, Lesser Celandine, that wonderful buttercup of woodland and hedge banks was the herald of spring, albeit a month later than usual.


During an odd mild, wet evening in March frogs and toads emerged making their way to their breeding ponds but, with the return of cold winds their spring activities were soon subdued. More than a week elapsed before temperatures were sufficient to restore their activities. The road by Waldingfield school pond was the scene of carnage on these occasions, repeated nationwide as frogs & toads make their way back to the pond in which they were born – please consider this fact before filling in your garden pond.


A phone call from a caring lady living near the pond resulted in the two of us patrolling the road with buckets & torches (the amphibians move under the cover of darkness) frantically catching up the animals before the next vehicle claimed more victims. If you are aware of a frog or toad ‘crossing’ and would like to help prevent this mass destruction of breeding amphibians; for your own safety, a high visibility jacket is essential. A bucket with an easily removed lid and a rechargeable torch or spare batteries - the animals may be on the move for up to 3 hours. This is an annual event for amphibians and mostly occurs late Feb on the first wet evening so, please log it in your diary for 2007. One final requirement, you must be able to resist causing ‘GBH’ to passers-by on receiving facetious remarks or strange looks, you know, the kind of expression that implies you are a ‘nutter’ for caring. Even those who express sympathy & approval for your efforts to save the animals will rarely offer to help so, other requirements for performing this task must include the resilience of a double-glazing salesperson - great determination & tenacity.


Providing suitable diverse habitats for wildlife is critical, for example, if more supporting habitat could be created around ponds many amphibians would not need to cross roads to find suitable hibernacula. If you plan any wildlife friendly measures please take advantage of the free fact sheets available. For help & advice call Suffolk Wildlife Trust on 01473 890089 or George Millins on (01787) 374874 / (Mob) 07970 295 426.


Finally in a last ditch attempt to preserve any lingering Adder colonies in West Suffolk (no reliable recordings since 1987) any suspected sightings should be reported to S.W.T. or myself.


George Millins – Local Conservationist


2006 Autumn

Issue 27


If you have a garden you can look after nature right on your doorstep. You don't have to dig a pond or create a wildflower meadow to make your garden a better place for wildlife. Even small changes can make a difference for wildlife!


Create a mini-pond

If you don't have room for a pond, you can still enjoy watching tadpoles in spring. Why not fill an old sink or half a beer barrel (first well soaked to make the timbers swell and become watertight) with water and grow some small water plants in it? Add 8-10cm of soil or sand and, gravel to the base. You can fill it with tap water but it must be left for 24 hours before planting to allow the chlorine to evaporate. Make sure you put some stones in one corner right up to the edge so animals can climb in and out easily.


Feed the birds

Feed the birds with a variety of hard and soft food - corn or cereals will be good for house sparrows, whilst fat will attract birds which feed on insects. Put out tempting treats such as peanuts (unsalted) for coal tits, sunflower seeds for greenfinches and cheese for robins. Don't give dry bread or whole peanuts to birds feeding young. Birds also need clean water all year round to drink and to wash in. Remember to clean your bird table and birdbath occasionally.


Plant climbers

Grow climbing plants on a fence or wall to provide a home for snails, moths, beetles and other wall-dwelling creatures. Ivy, being evergreen, is great for wildlife all the year round. Birds will nest in it, butterflies will hibernate amongst its leaves and insects will feed on the flowers. You can also grow honeysuckle, (which has nectar-rich flowers followed by fruit). Clematis, climbing roses and sweet peas are also good.


Advice from Suffolk Wildlife Trust on 01473 890089


2006 Winter

Issue 28


The transition from summer to winter is slowly taking place and hedgehogs (where traffic has not eradicated them), amphibians and reptiles will soon be asleep in their hibernacula. If they have chosen a compost heap, a pile of branches and other vegetation, a rubble pile or a hedge-bank that is subject to disturbance or destruction before next spring they will die; gardeners please keep this in mind.


Piles of leaves if of sufficient size can provide a good place to spend the winter for hedgehogs, amphibians and other wildlife but this is a task for a calm day as it is a fair bet if any wind exists it will blow your leaves back from where they came. To prevent the subsequent dispersal of your pile of leaves seal them in place with grass cuttings, branches, hedge cuttings and other garden waste, this will also increase the value of your hibernaculum / habitat pile.


Here is a winter checklist to help wildlife in your garden:


1 Clean out bird nesting boxes ready for next spring.


2 Pour yourself a small whiskey, brave the cold and get the tree cutting done before birds start to nest in them.


3 Clean your bird feeders at least once a month but more frequently during damp or wet weather. Birds do die from food poisoning and for this reason move your feeders from time to time, as the area beneath will become quite foul.


4 Provide water for your birds and this should be subject to the same hygiene concerns as your feeders. I find a hand brush very effective for cleaning even a concrete birdbath. If a frost is forecast brush the water out before it freezes solid overnight this saves time and messing about with hot water the following morning.


5 Now is a good time to plant shrubs and some other perennials to provide nectar for butterflies but remember this source of nectar is for adult butterflies and not to be confused with ‘FOOD PLANTS’ as these are native plants (weeds) on which the caterpillars will feed and critical for the survival of our butterfly species.


For help and advice on any wildlife subject including a list of wild plant / tree suppliers please call me on (01787) 374874 / (Mob) 07970 295 426 or Suffolk Wildlife Trust on 01473 890089.


George Millins – Local Conservationist