Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Make a difference

You'll have noticed by now that I do a lot of thinking about birds and birding on my journeys to and from work, and today was no difference.

With the weather much more pleasant than it has been for ages, and spring on the point of exploding into life, it was disappointing to see long stretches of hedgerows not just cut back, but stripped almost bare, at exactly the time of year when many birds will be looking to use them for nesting.

Now this isn't an anti-farming rant. A lot of farmers do a great deal to help the birding environment, but the main problem in cases like this one, I suspect, is that some are still unaware of just how relatively minor changes to their routine can impact on wildlife.

A bigger hobby horse, for me, is the cutting of roadside verges by councils. In some locations this is, to be fair, absolutely necessary for the sake of visibility and road safety, but in others it seems absolutely pointless. It does, however, significantly affect birds, by reducing the amount of available insect and seed food, and by reducing scrubby cover.

So, if you get the chance, have a quiet word with your local farmer about bird-friendly scheduling of tasks such as hedging, and better still write to your local council to suggest that this spring and summer, they let the verges grow. They'll be doing birds a big favour, and they'll be saving themselves a lot of money.

Matt Merritt, features editor

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