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Helping Wildlife (2009)

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

2009 Spring

Issue 37


By the time this newsletter drops on your doormat the first signs of Spring will be apparent, even if snow covers the ground. Some species of birds will be seen in pairs and will be prospecting for a suitable nest site so, it is important to clean out established bird boxes A.S.A.P. and position any new boxes, these are more successful if they face any direction other than south.


If removing or disturbing compost heaps, ground covering shrubs, brash piles (clippings from hedges or other plants) or out-houses please be vigilant for hibernating hedgehogs (now a biodiversity action plan species due to recent declines), amphibians, reptiles and possibly bats in the roofs of buildings or old damaged trees. Bats are highly protected by law due to decades of decline in their numbers. If bats are discovered please call the Suffolk Wildlife Trust on 01473 890089.


While the decline in our wildlife - fauna and flora - continues and has accelerated over the recent years with widespread habitat loss to development, I must make a plea for help for our butterflies, moths, bees and other invertebrates. While development certainly destroys habitat for the invertebrates the unnecessary close mowing of almost any significant area of grass renders the habitat useless for these creatures and many others and, it costs the local council tax payer good money while at the same time destroying wildlife, and that is simply madness!


To illustrate the point, a message from our County Butterfly Recorder states:

‘The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme just published its latest report for the period 1976 to 2007 - a detailed publication showing historic data for individual species. It makes gloomy reading in general terms, and the charts for individual species give particular cause for concern because so many of them finish with a nose dive. To those, like me, who know that 2008 has been another very poor year for almost all of our formerly common butterflies, it raises serious doubts about the prospects of recovery for some species.


The Dingy Skipper was only found in one locality in Suffolk in 2008, although the UK-wide trend shows only a progressive decline since 1988. Its more common cousins the Small & Essex Skippers on the other hand are showing a dramatic fall since 2005, and the Common Blue is also slipping into the red listing for endangered species. These declines are only partly due to the disturbed weather patterns. The root cause of most of the long-term decay lies in habitat destruction and one poor season lowers the number surviving to the next spring.’


If you would like to help butterflies or indeed any species of wildlife, fact sheets and advice is readily available from Suffolk Wildlife Trust on 01473 890089 or me on (01787) 374874 / (mobile) 07534 263629.


George Millins – Local Conservationist


2009 Summer

Issue 38


Spring is here! The countryside has changed from various shades of brown and grey to a fresh, bright green that only lasts for a couple of weeks or so.


Most species of birds are now nesting, but this is a time of danger and hardship for them, apart from their natural predators (and non-native in the form of the grey squirrel) man emerges from his winter state of torpor and brandishing some mechanical gadget, attacks trees, shrubs, hedges and ground cover - all the places in fact where birds would be nesting; PLEASE LOOK BEFORE YOU START CUTTING!!  Hedgehogs and some birds will nest on the ground under bramble and other ground covering shrubs. Late autumn and winter is traditionally the time for this kind of work.


Gardens have changed dramatically over the last couple of decades or so; front garden lawns and flower beds have become block paved or tarmac car parks. Few rear gardens have a vegetable patch and have become so manicured they provide little or no foraging opportunities for parent birds to satisfy their young. Those of you wise enough to feed the birds all year round will notice the considerable increase in food consumption through spring and summer compared with the winter intake.


There is an apparent decline in toad populations locally, many people are saying they had breeding toads in their garden ponds but, they have not been seen in recent years and the frogs seem to be in reduced numbers also. Frogs and toads have now completed their breeding activities and many will leave their breeding pond and become terrestrial, but suitable terrestrial habitat such as a rough grass margin, traditional hedgerow, compost heap and undisturbed ground covering shrubs have been eradicated from many gardens; which is undoubtedly a significant factor in the apparent declines. I would be grateful for any information about breeding toads in garden ponds.


In the last newsletter I made a plea for help for our disappearing butterflies and other invertebrates, I did not receive a flood of calls, actually, NONE to date, so please turn your heads away from the telly, look out of the window at the real world, it was once a place of wonder, but no longer has your garden the biodiversity it used to have. If anyone would like to help stem local butterfly and other species extinctions do call me on (01787) 374874 or 07534 263629 (Mob), the help and information is FREE!!


George Millins – Local Conservationist


2009 Autumn

Issue 39


My Spring article included two requests: one for information on toads breeding in garden ponds, and a plea for help for declining butterflies, moths and other invertebrates including a creatures critical to our survival - BEES. I till need more information, so please phone!


I have friends and acquaintances in Cornard and Gt. Waldingfield - OK I confess, not many - who do care and are prepared to do something practical to save our wildlife. At this point in time we are very much in the minority but therefore those of us who are aware of the need for action surely have an added responsibility to take action. There are a few modern day prophets saying ‘it is too late to stop the destruction of the natural world’ well, this has got to be a call to arms has it not? Watching the wildlife programs on the box (TV) will not help the wildlife outside in your garden unless you take practical measures to preserve them. The moral obligation to preserve all other life forms is quite clear to me but, for those solely concerned about their own well-being I think it fair to say that every remedy or cure for human ailments has a natural basis - in other words, if you do not take action to preserve the natural diversity you may perish along with it!!!! [Heartfelt but true words – Ed’]


I would still welcome any information on toads in garden ponds because if an apparent decline is ignored the result could be another species locally extinct. For those unable to distinguish between a frog and a toad just go on your PC to Google search or, if animals are visible in your pond I will identify.


Now, your actions in your garden in late Summer/Autumn may well decide whether annual species, their eggs or larva will emerge next year as mature butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, crickets and many, many other species to perpetuate their kind. Small mammals such as the hedgehog - now in decline - depend on your sensitivity, consideration and subsequent actions. I have fact sheets freely available to help you help them to survive - PLEASE DO HELP. Call me on (01787) 374874 or mobile 07534 263629.


George Millins – Local Conservationist


2009 Winter

Issue 40