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24th September 2011 - Hands off your Hedges PDF Print E-mail

Well done to everyone who resisted the urge to cut their hedges whilst birds were nesting. However, could I request, before you get the trimmers out of the shed, that you show a bit of restraint during your autumnal garden tidy up.  

As well as providing nest sites, hedges are a larder for all sorts of birds; They are currently full of berries and fruit that will be a very valuable food source once the weather gets colder, and they are also full of overwintering insects, crucial for tiny birds such as goldcrests and wrens.

I didn't really appreciate how many insects live in hedges until I trimmed  some shrubs and ivy during a freezing January day a few years ago; I dumped all the clippings on my patio and when I picked them up later was amazed by the insect life that crawled out of it.

It's not just gardeners that I'm hoping will halt their heavy handed hedge cutting - Farmers and other land owners should also be aware of the value of the content of their hedges; I've seen and heard of lots of hedge cutting activity in the past few days and wish that land owners would ask themselves “Do I really need to cut this?” more often. If your hedge is encroaching a road, path or cycleway then a good trim is very necessary – but what point is there in hacking back field boundaries?

Winter visitors from Northern Europe, such as redwing and fieldfare, will be arriving shortly – Let's make sure there is plenty of hedgerow food to welcome them back.

Fieldfare Redwing

Storm Update

Just after my last column was published I found out from my mate Cath at City Wildlife Care that they had picked up seven manx shearwaters following the recent storms. These were young birds that had been blown along the coast from West Wales (some ending up inland - one amazingly turned up in Blackwood!) and were quickly returned to sea on the next calm night after some feeding up.

Birdwatching Events

Don't forget that Gwent Ornithological Society (GOS) has lined up a guided birdwatching walk on Sunday 9th October, when there is an out of county trip to watch migratory birds at Brean Down. This is a smashing site, less than an hour's drive away, and anyone interested should meet Craig Constance at Magor Services at 7.00am (for more details call 07970 558583).

GOS's excellent season of indoor talks continues at Goytre Village Hall (just off the A4042 by the Goytre Arms) on Saturday 1st October, when Dawn Balmer of the BTO will be previewing the National Bird Atlas. This publication is currently being compiled from birdwatching data supplied by the British public over the last five years. If you want to know what is really happening to our bird populations then this is a talk you don't want to miss!

Two weeks later, on Saturday 15th October, GOS's own geriatric heart throb Mick Bailey will be on hand to guide us through the basics of bird song. Mick says “Don't worry if you can't tell your chiffchaff from your chough, learning bird song isn't as difficult as you think” - Why not pop along and let Mick teach something new?

There is no need to book places on these walks and talks - just turn up. New faces (especially Argus readers) are always welcome at GOS events.

Entry to talks is £1.50 and includes tea and biscuits.

Walkers should remember to bring suitable clothing (boots essential), food and drink – and binoculars if you have them.

For more information visit www.gwentbirds.org.uk or give me a call on the number below. Likewise, if you want me to send you a copy of GOS's programme of walks and talks, just let me know.

Keep in Touch

Thank you to all readers that have taken the time to get in touch.

 I always enjoy hearing from you and can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or on 01633 866470.