Hedgerows and Hedge-pigs
Just as we thought spring was here, nature threw us a curveball and the League’s was covered by a blanket of snow. It didn’t last long, though, and it couldn’t stop the daffodil bulbs from taking over the baton from snowdrops as they burst into flower.
Hedgerows provide vital corridors by which wildlife can traverse the countryside. However, agricultural intensification has resulted in many miles of hedgerows being grubbed up and removed, leaving wildlife isolated and vulnerable. On the League’s wildlife sanctuaries we are fortunate that many of our hedgerows have survived intact and we are busy maintaining the hedges we have, as well as planting more. The ancient art of laying hedges by hand is time-consuming, but it is infinitely better for wildlife than the modern practice of flaying hedges using a tractor. Hedgelaying may look fairly brutal when it is first done, but it prolongs the life of the hedge and increases its value for wildlife.
One mammal clearly associated with hedges is the hedgehog, or hedge-pig, so called because of its pig-like snout and its habit of snuffling around under hedges. Last week we took delivery of 6 more hedgehogs from the RSPCA at West Hatch, to add to the 4 we released last August. These latest hedgehogs had been brought into the wildlife centre because they were underweight and unlikely to survive the winter. They have been nurtured, fed and watered and given a health check, and now that spring is on its way they have been released onto the League’s Baronsdown wildlife sanctuary. Hedgehogs have been badly persecuted because they will eat the eggs of 'game' birds and myth has it that they suckle from cows. Hopefully, the hedgehogs we have released will stay around the sanctuary and rejuvenate a thriving population.