Badgers will prey on hedgehogs and also compete with them for other prey items such as slugs and worms. However, hedgehogs and badgers have lived in the same habitats for millions of years and there is little evidence suggesting that badgers are contributing to hedgehog decline.
Yes. All bats and their roosts are protected by law (even if a bat is not in the roost at the time). It is illegal to deliberately capture, injure or kill a bat, disturb a bat(s) in its roost; damage or destroy a bat roost, possess/advertise/sell/exchange a bat (or parts of a bat) whether dead or alive, or obstruct access to a bat roost.
If you regularly see bats in your garden, it’s possible that they are roosting in your home, or perhaps in one of your neighbours’ houses. Call the Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) to ask for a copy of the ‘Living with bats’ booklet, which gives advice on what to do if you share your house with bats. Norwich Bat Group would also like to hear about the roost, visit their website at www.norwichbatgroup.org.uk
Black swans are not native to Britain, they are originally from Australia. They were brought over here as ornamental birds and as part of wildfowl collections. However, as often happens, some birds have escaped and now live quite happily in the wild.
Mechanical fails or rotary driven cutters are widely used by farmers and landowners and the majority of hedges will recover from this. When cut by this method the hedge will look severely beaten for a few weeks. When the new shoots do grow back they will form multiple shoots and then branch outwards rather than up.
Landowners using a reciprocating bar cutter to cut the hedges will often leave a neater cut on the hedge with less risk of infection to individual plants within the hedge.
By law landowners are required to trim hedges back if they are alongside public highways, footpaths or any public right of way if it is preventing ease of access or affecting safety of the highway user to drivers or pedestrians. The debris from cutting must also be cleared up afterwards.
Under Cross Compliance regulations, which most agricultural land is now under, the cutting of hedges is prohibited between 1st March and 31st July to prevent nesting birds and other wildlife being disturbed.
The cutting of standard trees within a hedgerow is up to the landowner. If they are in one of the agricultural schemes such as the Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) or Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) then there are rules and guidelines on hedgerow management. Ideal hedgerow management is not always easy to achieve. The ‘text book’ way to cut a hedge is to cut in an ‘A’ shape with a wide bottom and flat top to give good ground cover for nesting birds also to cut during the winter months to lessen disturbance to wildlife but this is not always possible for landowners.
The health of the mature trees is put at risk by infection when cut by flail mowers but the majority of them will survive. The longer outlook for them will be that they grow outwards and get incorporated into the hedge rather than grow up to be mature tress if the cutting continues. Without some form of management hedges will become gappy at the base and less attractive to certain wildlife species. Without the flail cutter it would be true that many more hedgerows would have been lost in the UK, as landowners would have grubbed far more out, prior to legislation which now restricts their complete removal.
The simple answer is no. Magpies and songbirds have coexisted for many thousands of years and there is absolutely no evidence that widespread declines of any species can be blamed on magpies. It is true that during the breeding season magpies take the eggs and young of small birds as do great-spotted woodpeckers, jays, stoats, hedgehogs and lots of other predators. In fact some songbird species whose nests are attacked by magpies such as greenfinch and goldfinch have increased in numbers and other songbirds, such as skylarks, whose nests are rarely predated by magpies have massively declined.
To demonise magpies and blame them as the main cause of loss of songbirds is simply wrong. More important factors such as food supply and availability of suitable breeding habitat are the real determinants of songbird populations.
There is no known sustainable population of red squirrels left in the wild in Norfolk. There are occasional reports from the Thetford Forest
area but these are thought to relate to deliberate releases of captive bred animals or escapes.
The adder is the only venomous snake that can be found in Norfolk. It mainly inhabits areas of open heath and sand-dunes but can be found in woodland and is particularly active in spring and early summer.
Adders are very shy and retiring creatures that will readily move away from any human presence well before potential contact. Adders will usually only bite if an attempt is made to pick them up but their bite is rarely fatal. If you or somebody with you is bitten it is very important that you stay calm and seek immediate medical attention. If possible the affected body part should be immobilized. Symptoms that may occur include dizziness, vomiting and swelling.
Adder bites can sometimes, though rarely, be fatal to pets and care should be taken when walking dogs through likely habitat particularly in March and April when the snakes are recently emerged from hibernation and may be slower to move out of harms way.
It should be stressed that you are very unlikely to encounter an adder and that if you do you should not try to handle or provoke them in any way. Adders are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
. It is an offence to kill, harm or injure them or to sell or trade them in any way.
Yes. The solitary bees that will use artificial bee homes are non-aggressive and can be observed at close quarters without risk.
Sparrowhawks are specialist hunters that depend entirely on smaller birds; they can only survive if healthy songbird populations produce a surplus for them to eat. Songbirds oblige: blue tits, for example, typically lay nine eggs, a family of 11 including the parents. For their population to remain stable, only two out of 11 need survive to the following year, nine out of the 11 are available for predators. Of sparrowhawks' main prey species, blue and great tits are increasing while the chaffinch population is stable after increasing recently. Blackbirds did decline between 1970 and 1990 but since 1995 have increased notably, while sparrowhawk numbers have been fairly stable. Collared doves, a favourite sparrowhawk prey, are continuing to increase rapidly (British Trust of Ornithology data). When sparrowhawk numbers crashed in the late 1950's, due to pesticide poisoning, populations of their main prey species, such as great tits, did not boom in response; nor did they decline when sparrowhawk numbers recovered. This demonstrated that other factors, such as food supply and winter weather, are more important in regulating bird populations than sparrowhawk predation.
In East Anglia, we became accustomed to seeing far fewer of our native hawks than would naturally be present; their numbers had been greatly reduced by pesticides and persecution. As sparrowhawks return to the woods of Norfolk it stands to reason that they will affect songbirds in the immediate area and in the short term, by harvesting surplus prey until a natural balance is once more attained. But in the long term, this natural balance is as vital for the predator as for the prey. The basic logic and arithmetic of the predator/prey relationship, the national population trends for their main prey species and the historical 'experiment' of sparrowhawk suppression all suggest that, considered overall and assuming a healthy environment, sparrowhawks and their prey live together in a natural balance.
Honey Fungus is the commonest of the toadstools which form large clusters at the base of trees and stumps. The caps are often honey-coloured, sometimes darker, usually with small scales. The gills are pale brownish and there is usually a ring (or ‘collar’) round the stem. Another clue is the presence of tough black threads (‘bootlaces’) under the bark of affected wood. In fact, this fungus is one of the most variable of our common fungi. The other common clustering fungus on stumps is Sulphur-tuft, smaller and yellower than Honey Fungus and it has dirty-greenish gills. It does not attack living trees.
Honey Fungus is a killer of trees (and some herbaceous plants) but it can take several years after the appearance of the toadstools before the tree dies. Removing them won’t help because it is the mycelium within the tree’s tissues which is causing the harm. Honey Fungus continues to consume the wood after the death of the tree.
Preventing the spread of the fungus is a major undertaking (involving digging, plastic barriers and a fungicide called Armillatox) but it is rarely worth the effort. The good news is that it typically attacks the odd tree and rarely destroys a garden or wood.
You don't need a huge garden to attract wildife, any open area can be managed for the benefit of wildlife. If you have a patio area why not plant some low growing plants in the cracks and gaps. By doing this you will be providing a valuable habitat and food for a variety of small animals. Bellflower, cranesbill, herb robert, purple saxifrage and thrift are just a few plants that will happily grow in such an environment.
Unlike frogs, toads tend to remain loyal to a relatively small number of traditional breeding ponds and have an instinctive desire to return to the pond in which they were born. In many areas this prevents them from utilising garden ponds for breeding. It is estimated that for every ‘toad pond’ there are 6 ‘frog ponds’. You may have toads in your garden pond during the summer months, but they are probably simply cooling off and may not stay long. Toads like fairly deep, well-oxygenated water to lay their eggs, and are usually found in larger fish ponds, reservoirs and farmland ponds, but they are known to breed in some garden ponds when the conditions are suitable for them.
Sometimes. Amphibian eggs and tadpoles vary in their ability to cope with fish predation. At one extreme, toad eggs and tadpoles are distasteful to fish, so that toads can thrive in fish ponds. At the other end of the scale, great crested newt tadpoles are extremely prone to being eaten by fish. Common frogs and smooth newts can survive in fish ponds, especially if there is plenty of vegetation in which to hide from fish. However, fish will reduce the numbers of surviving tadpoles and the best wildlife ponds, ideally, do not contain any fish.
We would not advise it! They may look like Field Mushrooms (with pink, darkening to chocolate brown, gills and a ring (or ‘collar’) on the stem) but are more likely to be Yellow-staining Mushrooms which seem to have a particular liking for gardens and ‘marginal’ areas. Yellow Stainers tend to be more lanky than Field Mushrooms (more like Wood Mushrooms) and their caps are often streaked brown or grey. The diagnostic character is that when a young mushroom is bruised or cut (especially at the base of the stem) a bright yellow colour develops immediately. Note that both Horse and Wood Mushrooms bruise a dirty brassy yellow which usually takes a little time to develop. Both of the latter smell of aniseed when bruised but the Yellow Stainer has a harsher (inky or phenolic) smell which intensifies on cooking! Although some people seem able to eat Yellow Stainers without problem, most people exhibit moderate to severe gastric upset if they try. But they have probably never killed anyone!
There have been a few reported cases where swans are becoming ill apparently due to people feeding them white bread. This may be due to the lack of nutrients found in white bread. The illness usually leaves them weak and so unable to forage for their own food. The cases are just reports and it may be that other factors such as overcrowding were involved in causing the swans to become ill. Generally white bread probably doesn’t do swans long term damage but you should still avoid using it as there are healthier alternatives.
Swans naturally feed on pond weed and other aquatic plants and invertebrates and will survive without the additional feeding from humans. However, if you still wish to feed swans, brown bread, seeds and vegetables are much healthier for them. Also remember to feed them in water to discourage them from coming onto the bank and to enable them to swallow water along with the food. If using bread make sure it isn’t stale as mould is poisonous to swans.