Moved from a city flat about 3 years ago to a house with a garden. WOW! Had the choice of growing veg or turning it over to wildlife. Deciding that watching vegetables grow was only marginally more interesting than watching paint dry, or listening to sports personality of the year acceptance speeches, I went for the wildlife option. Very glad I did.
When I moved in, I noticed that the neighbour on my right, fearful that I may turn out to be something from the depths of hell, had preempted by planting a defensive barrier of leylandii between our back gardens. The neighbour on the left, along with his three strapping sons, one of whom I considered may be adept at plucking a mean banjo, held no such fear and thus had decided the only barrier required was the existing chain-link fence.
Having assured both sets that I was indeed nothing to be feared, nor somebody who would complain about the occasional offerings of drum and bass, I set about converting 'the patch' which was just an oblong of field grass, into something that would attract a variety of wildlife.
Not having had a garden before I decided to consult the experts, all of whom seemed to be on google and all of whom agreed that a water feature was the first essential. And there's the first shame. Whereas, by-and-large, the neighbouring gardens were, to varying degrees full of bushes, hedges and flowers, not one of them had a pond. The nearest water was a small stream at the bottom of the road and of course a variety of bird baths. So I dug a pond. I was going to stock it with fish, but the experts said they would eat the eggs and babies of other water creatures. I dug two ponds, one for fish and one just for other things like newts and frogs etc. and then connected the two with a pump and some streams between them.
I was frankly astonished at how quickly the wildlife pond became populated and in my first spring, delighted at the amount of frogs and newts it had attracted. However, despite efforts to stop the frogs from mating and spawning in the goldfish pond and even after the erection of a warning notice (frogs and newts please use other pond) they completely ignored such advice and continued anyway. Not sure if it was the right thing to do, but netted the spawn and moved them to the 'correct' pond.
The birds love the ponds. They drink from them and bath in them and in the streams I created.
Next I planted a hedge between my back garden and the neighbours on the left. At first I was impressed with the leylandii my neighbour had planted, but again the experts intervened and persuaded me to plant native shrubs. So I did. Hazels, elders, all the thorns, field oak and maple and so on. Also I had enough space to plant some native fruit trees in the garden itself (plus a pretty something I'd bought on a whim when visiting Morrisons but don't know what it is). These are all now established and the birds just love them. Apart from the Morrisons one.
Shame number two. Since I moved here a whole row of mature trees were removed from 'The Majors House' a few doors down and two lots of fir hedges have disappeared, plus there's been some clearance of trees in a small copse opposite. This lies beyond a hedge on the other side of the lane and that is flayed once every two years. Yes, it's not trimmed. An old farmer type in a very old tractor comes along and flays the hedge. Perhaps he's cheap.
My point is this. I believed that moving to the country would allow me the chance to see wildlife, yet what I find is there seems to be more wildlife in the city. Certainly in the past three years I have twice seen a fox. This is far less than I saw in the city. Too, there seem to be less birds. For two of my three years we had starlings. This year there haven't been any. Small consolation, but have been visited regularly by a great spotted woodpecker, sometimes two.
I blame all this on the ignorance of folk who seem to be complacent to what wildlife requires. Why aren't there any ponds? Why plant exotica that doesn't attract the insects the birds depend on? Why clear paradise to make an alien landscape? It is disturbing to realise that this is just one little village and there are many in this country where the same level of destruction and ignorance could be going on, until one day, the only place to see wildlife will be in the city.
There are owls at night and bats, but how long before all their habitats are gone? How long will it be before the great spotted woodpecker disappears from my feeding station?
Shame indeed. I completely agree with you.
I count myself very fortunate to have lived now and not in the future where it will be 'wildlifeless'. But then, I guess I'm just an old cynic.
Hi Ripple welcome to the forum.
I agree with Graham, and only hope that for every "Major" there are ten of us trying our best to attract the birds and wider wildlife into our gardens.
good story and very true of a "nowadays" situation....