11 February 2013

Just the Thicket

At this time of year, the focus of the meadows tends to be on the edges and hedges rather than the grassland itself.  The boundary features are not only the framework within which the meadows sit, but also provide valuable links and wildlife corridors that connect nature reserves with the wider countryside.

The winter months are the ideal time to carry out management on the hedges and scrub, causing minimal disruption to wildlife and its habitat. Working rotationally on these habitats further reduces any impact, as a refuge is always maintained even when seemingly quite dramatic work such as coppicing is undertaken.

One of the tasks this winter has been to begin to rejuvenate and thicken a block of blackthorn scrub.

This species can form really dense thickets which are favoured by species like bullfinch. However, as the blackthorn matures it becomes quite drawn and leggy in character and begins to loose its 'thicket' quality.  The thinner structure is less valuable for birds.The answer is to coppice it in rotation to encourage denser re-growth.

The block of blackthorn we have worked on at Martin's meadows this year has been 'high' coppiced  with the aim of ensuring the new growth is above rabbit feeding height. We did coppice a small area a couple of years ago  down to ground and the rabbits made swift work of removing all the re-growth! We have learnt our lesson and have tried a different tack this year.  Hopefully the result will be strong dense growth, thick enough to suit bullfinch and from which you can hear this bird's faint  but distinctive whistle like song. (Photo of bullfinch by Darin Smith)

No comments:

Post a Comment