Saturday, 8 January 2011

holes tell a tale

The new site has lots of 'zones' to explore and understand.

The neglected grassland between the demolished mushroom sheds and the regenerated birch, hawthorn and oak woodland on the site perimeter has been compacted due to the snow. The thaw has revealed an underground city of tiny tunnels with lots of entrances like this one, presumably made by small mice and voles.

We hear tawny owls on site and guess that this area is part of their free range larder. Small mammals are important in the tawny owls' diet. They often have favoured perching places from which they swoop a short distance to drop onto their prey. In summer this grass becomes a swaying ocean with shoals of grasshoppers pretending to be flying fish dispersing as I sail through. There are big anthill atolls too, that will be irresistible to the visiting green woodpeckers we hear.

Sheer neglect, of course is management. This large patch doesn't seem to have had anything happen to it in years. The result is a teeming 'beetle bank' for invertebrates and small mammals to live in. The food chain above flourishes due to the nutrition that these creatures provide.

A lesson here for meddling new owners is to do nothing to help wildlife!

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