Monday 30 March 2020

Thinking Of Summer

I've done it again, missed a day. My wrist has been duly self-slapped! No excuse other than Gail and I were social distancing in 19.2 ha of semi-natural broad-leaved woodland, that's 192,000 square metres without another soul. The safest place to be I suspect at the moment, other than on an island!

To try and cheer myself up I have been thinking of summer, and some of the more common butterflies that will hopefully lift our spirits and fill our hearts with joy in the months to come. And I've posted pictures of just a few of them below.

Common Blue

Large Skipper

 Painted Lady


 Red Admiral

 Small Tortoiseshell


In case you were wondering it was queit again on the moth front last night, just a single Hebrew Character and a Common Quaker. Now if you'll please excuse me, I need to go and switch my moth trap on. 

Saturday 28 March 2020

Dung Roundhead

I find fungi fascinating, neither a plant or an animal, and they have such fantastic and very often descriptive names; Dung Roundhead, Common Stump Brittlestern, Twig Parachute and Bloodred Webcap etc, etc, etc tens of thousands of times!

The picture below is of a Dung Roundhead, I think (maybe somebody will tell me differently), that I took at one of my bird ringing sites in 2013. In fact, I am rubbish at identifying fungi, mainly because I don't spend enough time doing it, and every year I always say to myself that I must spend some more time looking at fungi, and sadly I never do. One of these days.....

 click to enlarge

It was another quiet night for the moth trap last night, and in my garden trap this morning I only had three Hebrew Characters, an Early Grey and a Common Quaker. It is early in the season and it was cold last night.

I might have something nest box related to post tomorrow, but we'll see. 

Friday 27 March 2020


Well, only a few days in of my daily posting attempt and yesterday was a no show! I apologise for that and a note to myself is that I must try harder.

Today's picture is of the Mull of Galloway lighthouse, which of course is situated on Scotland's most southerly point, the Mull of Galloway! In fact, the Mull of Galloway is further south than Carlisle, and is at a similar latitude to Penrith or Whitehaven.

Why am I posting a picture of a lighthouse I can hear you ask? I have always been interested in lighthouses, and as a boy I wanted to be a Lighthouse Keeper when I grew up! That never happened, but my interest and fascination in them has always remained. I think part of that is the geographic locations of lighthouses, and by nature of what they are, they overlook some of the most dramatic stretches of our coast. And with these isolated locations, on islands or headlands, comes birds, and more to the point, bird migration!

If like me you have a love of lighthouses, and perhaps the wildlife found at lighthouses, I can recommend two books. Firstly, is the book that I am reading at the moment A Natural History of Lighthouses by John A. Lowe, and secondly A Lighthouse Notebook by Norman McCanch. Both are very different, but equally excellent.

In my garden moth trap this morning were singles of Common Quaker, Hebrew Character and Clouded Drab. Other invertebrates in my garden during the day were Buff-tailed Bumblebees, and Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies.

There was a steady passage of Meadow Pipits north during the morning, and a flock of eleven Pink-footed Geese heading south, was an interesting direction for Spring!

It's more garden watching tomorrow as Coronavirus keeps us at home, and I just wanted to thank the NHS for all the hard work they do during these difficult times. And of course, other front-line workers that try and keep things as normal as possible for us all during these far from normal times; thank you!

Wednesday 25 March 2020


My alarm went off at 3 o'clock this morning as I had to drive to Berwick to complete the last wintering bird survey I had to do up there. Driving there and back I had plenty of time to think about the picture I was going to post today, and I had a few ideas from Scottish castles, to butterflies, to flowers and anywhere in between!

As I was unloading my car in the dark at about eight o'clock this evening, I heard a call that sounded familiar, but yet wasn't familiar at the same time. It sounded a bit like a Coot in terms of the pitch of the call, but it was more of a trumpeting or bugling sound. A quick listen to a few Coot flight calls on-line, and bingo it was a Coot flying over in the dark, and my house is a long way from any Coot habitat.

Of course, Coots do move, and Kane Brides at the Wetland and WiIldfowl Trust (WWT) has done a lot of research into Coot movements through a programme of colour ringing, and a few members of Fylde Ringing Group helped with this locally. Through colour ringing Coots, Kane demonstrated how much Coots do move, with sightings of Coots ringed in the northwest of England from all over the UK.

One good example was a Coot that Kane ringed in Greater Manchester in December 2010, and it wintered in Greater Manchester in 2011, but in February 2012 it was sighted 260 km north at Straiton in Mid Lothian, Scotland. By December 2012, this bird was back in Greater Manchester.

The story doesn't end there. This bird was observed at its Greater Manchester wintering site in January 2013, but a month later (Feb 2013) it was at Gunknowe Loch, Tweedbank, Scotland 229 km north. Amazing!

Coots aren't the best of flyers, although they can't be too bad to move such distances, and as such they move at night to avoid being detected by predators. In fact, one of the Marsh Harriers' favourite prey items is the Coot, but of course these predators aren't active at night, so night migration is safer.

Below is the only photo I have in my archives of Coot, and it isn't the best of shots, but it very obviously is a Coot!

 click to enlarge

I didn't have too much of interest on my survey in the northeast this morning other than eleven Eiders, three Shags, 25 Redshanks, eleven Curlews, a Red-throated Diver, twelve Turnstones and a pair of Goldeneyes.

I didn't run my garden moth trap last night, but it's on tonight, so I'll let you know what I catch tomorrow.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

The Not So Humble Chaffinch

I like Chaffinches, I always have. For many years, I along with other fellow ringers in Fylde Ringing Group have studied them every winter through ringing, and built up a database of movements of Chaffinches that winter in Lancashire and breed in Scandinavia. We've looked at wing length as a way of separating Scandinavian birds from British birds. As a general rule, longer winged birds within a population are generally longer distant migrants, as longer, more pointed wings create more lift for the same amount of effort. That's an over simplification, but is more-or-less accurate.

I like to think that I have my finger on the pulse when it comes to UK bird populations, but I have to admit to be taken slightly aback to receive an appeal from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) regarding Chaffinches, and that is why I have posted the picture below of a gorgeous male Chaffinch.

 click to enlarge

I'll quote the BTO directly:

"You may be shocked to hear that our Chaffinch population is collapsing. Our most familiar of finches is vanishing from our gardens and countryside...This sudden and pronounced decline is sounding alarm bells that we shouldn't take its abundance granted any longer".

The current conservation status of the Chaffinch is Green (of least concern and not considered to be at risk) in the UK. According to the BTO the size and speed of the decline suggests that they could be placed on the Red or Amber list of Birds of Conservation Concern when the next review takes place later this year!

Chaffinches can suffer from a disease called trichomonosis, which decimated the Greenfinch population following an outbreak in 2005-06. What remains unclear is why Chaffinch numbers only started to decrease dramatically in 2012, and not when the trichomonosis outbreak first occurred amongst Greenfinches.

So, the BTO are looking for donations to support an urgent appeal for Chaffinches. Only when they know the causes of the decline can effective targeted conservation actions begin. If you feel like you can help, I know we are in testing times ourselves, you can visit Thanks.

Talking of the BTO and Covid 19, all volunteer BTO surveyors, including ringers, have been told that no survey work is to be undertaken from now until further government advice is received, if any travel to complete the survey work is involved. So basically, if it isn't in your garden, you can't do it. Sensible.

In case you were wondering I had five moths in my garden light trap this morning; two Hebrew Characters, two Common Quakers and a Clouded Drab.

Monday 23 March 2020

Common Frog

I'm cheating today because I am posting two pictures; one is of a Common Frog and the other is of frog spawn. At this time of year ponds, and other assorted wetlands, up and down the country have frog spawn in them. It's one of those first real signs of Spring that people look out for. In fact the Common Frog is one of the amphibian species that is recorded as part of the Nature's Calendar annual survey of phenology.

 click to enlarge

I had four moths in my garden light trap this morning, so a 400% increase on the night  before; three Hebrew Characters and a Double-striped Pug. So fingers crossed for another 400% increase tomorrow!

Sunday 22 March 2020

Hebrew Character

There was really only one picture that I could post today, and that is of the Hebrew Character that was in my moth trap this morning, as it was my first moth of the year in my garden light trap. Also, it was a 100% increase in catching rate from the night before!

Click to enlarge

What gives this moth its name is the distinct black mark on the forewing, that looks like...well a hebrew character! This moth spends the winter as a pupa in an underground cocoon, with the adult fully formed inside. It was cold last night, but Hebrew Characters do fly in cold conditions, and they can be seen feeding on Sallow blossom, of which there is some out in my garden at present!

Saturday 21 March 2020

Solan Goose

I've gone north of the border again for today's picture, and it is one of my favourite birds, the Gannet. The Gannet has lots of local names and one of the most common is that of Solan Goose.
The picture below was taken in northeast Scotland at Scotland's largest mainland Gannet colony, Troup Head in Aberdeenshire.
 click to enlarge
At this time of year when seawatching from Rossall Point Gannets start to move through as they return to their colonies, and can be seen quite close inshore. Better still is to go to a Gannet colony such as Troup head or Bempton Cliffs on the Yorkshire coast.
What the picture can't convey is the sound and smell of a seabird colony, and it is really impossible to describe, you just have to go an experience it for yourself! So, when we get through the madness that we find ourselves living through at the moment, treat yourself to a visit to a seabird colony, I can guarantee that you will absolutely love it! 
It was on this day in 2015 when for only twice in my life I could see Scotland, or Dumfries or Galloway to be more precise, from the Lancashire coast! The atmospheric conditions meant that it was crystal clear and Snowdonia in Wales and the Isle of Man were also crystal clear!

Friday 20 March 2020


I was hoping to avoid writing a blog post with Coronavirus in the title, but unfortunately it helps to explain what I have planned for the blog over the coming days, weeks or more like months due to the dreaded 'C' word!

I regularly read a cracking blog called 'North Downs and Beyond' by a very talented nature writer called Steve Gale, in fact I would be chuffed if I could write half as good as he does, or even take pictures half as well as Steve does! Anyway, you can find a link to Steve's excellent blog by clicking HERE  and I can't recommend his blog enough.

In terms of Covid 19, I am lucky that I am not in the high-risk group, but I am doing my best to social distance myself as much as possible, and I suppose I am also lucky as an Ecologist that my job entails working outside. However, I do have a 91-year-old father and an 85-year-old mother-in-law, so I do need to be careful.

Where am I going with this, I can hear you ask? On a post from 17th March on 'North Downs and beyond' Steve said that he was going to "attempt to post a daily image that will hopefully bring a little bit of light relief to those of you who visit this blog". And I thought what a great idea, so I intend to try and do the same. I might even dip into the archives and see if there is anything lurking there of interest. Having said all that, please don't hold me to it dear reader if I miss the odd day, as it might be that I have a real time post of interest to post, as I do intend to carry on with my survey work, get out birding and run my moth trap etc!

So, today's offering is a view from Abernethy Forest, and I took the photograph when Gail and I were on holiday in Aberdeenshire last year. We just did a couple of hours walk through the forest, so we didn't really do this fantastic piece of woodland justice. If you're ever in that part of the world I can thoroughly recommend a walk in Abernethy Forest!

Click the pic to enlarge

Wednesday 18 March 2020

First Spring Chiffie

I suppose I should say that yesterday morning I had 'my' first spring Chiffie, and that it wasn't 'the' first spring Chiffchaff! I was back at my west Lancs wintering bird survey site to complete the final survey for the winter, and the survey was completed under nearly full cloud cover, with a stiff south-westerly wind.

Funnily enough, the Chiffie was the first bird that I recorded singing from a hedgerow as I walked to my vantage point (VP). And it would also be the only summer migrant that I had.

 Chiffchaffs at this time of year can be carrying 'pollen horns' (feathers encrusted
with pollen close to the bill), like the Chiffchaff above that I ringed in March 
2017. When these birds are foraging for insects or pollen on flowers, the sticky
pollen can become encrusted on the birds feathers. Analysis of the pollen stuck to 
these feathers mainly comes from Eucalyptus and citrus plants. The birds will pick 
up this pollen when foraging in plantations in North Africa, Spain or Portugal!

There were a few Meadow Pipits heading north, and it was a few, just eleven in total. As these surveys are tide related, I was surveying over low water, and didn't start the survey until 9:00 a.m. This means that any Meadow Pipits would have already been moving for close on three hours, and by this time the passage would have been slowing down.

When I left home everywhere was shrouded in low cloud, but as soon as I was a few miles inland and further south it was clear. I spoke to Ian during the morning and he told me that there were Meadow Pipits all over the golf course at Fleetwood, within the Obs recording area, and he had a grounded flock of 150 in the coastal farm fields. I also had a few Mipits grounded, with a flock of about 40 feeding in front of my VP.

The only other 'vis' that I had was a single Grey Wagtail, two Buzzards, two Sparrowhawks and a flock of calling Pink-footed Geese, numbering 46, heading high to the north.

 One of this morning's Buzzards

In addition to the two northward bound Buzzards there were a few local birds moving around, perhaps about seven, and two Kestrels also flew the raptor flag.

A Jay, a Raven, a singing Goldcrest and seven Shelducks were the only other birds to make it into my notebook. Of course, I did record lots of other species that I have to record numbers and activity of on the maps, but I don't want to bore you with counts of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Jackdaws, Carrion Crows, Blue Tits etc!

Like everybody all over the world we are in the middle of a Covid 19 pandemic, and how it will impact on my ecology work I'm not sure. But on the positive side it's spring, migrants are arriving and there's birding to be done!

Wednesday 11 March 2020

Return Of The Garden Med

Every winter since 2012 I have recorded a Mediterranean Gull in, over or around my garden, or I have seen it close to my house. What is unusual is that where I live is most definitely not the sort of habitat that you would expect a Med. Gull to over-winter in!

I first recorded it, and I will say 'it' because I expect it is the same bird based on the unusual winter habitat preferences that it has, in 2012, and it was an adult then! This makes the bird at least ten years old!

 A, but not 'the', Med. Gull. Funnily enough I have never had my camera at
hand when it is apeared around my garden!

I had given up hope of seeing it this winter, but that all changed when I was approaching the mini-roundabout at the end of my road and it flew over in full summer plumage; stonking! On some occasions when it is dropping into gardens, or onto garage roofs to feed on kitchen scraps I have heard it call. It's call is one of the nicest calls of any Gull species in my opinion, and as I am rubbish at describing calls I'll leave it to the 'Collins Bird Guide' which states the " is a distinctive, rising-then-falling note, like  an enthusiastic, nasal 'yeah', but with a slightly whining tone".

Mmm...not quite getting it? Try listening here to a recording on the excellent Xeno-Canto website by Twan Mols.

On Monday morning I treated Gail to an hour's tree planting at the pools at the Obs. I have a number of Willows in my garden and every winter I cut them back/coppice them and any useful 'wands' that can be used for planting on again I store in a bucket of water. I had about 60-70 Willow wands and Gail and I took them to the pools to plant them to form a screen on the higher ground overlooking the newly restored scrape/pool. The idea being to screen the pool at a particularly vulnerable section to disturbance from passing pedestrian traffic.

 Gail with a bundle of Willows (above) and hapily planting
them below.

After we had finished planting the Willow wands we had a look on the pools and associated grassland and recorded two singing Skylarks, a Grey Wagtail, two Reed Buntings, two Cetti's Warblers, five Little Grebes, two male Shovelers, a Snipe, a pair of nest building Mute Swans and 22 Coots.

It will probably be weekend before I am out again, unless I can squeeze a survey in at the end of the week. Sand Martin and Wheatear at weekend maybe?

Monday 9 March 2020


At the end of last week, I completed two surveys at my wintering bird survey site in west Lancashire; a low water count Thursday afternoon and a high-water count on Friday morning.

It was a glorious afternoon on the Thursday, and it felt like the sort of afternoon where there would be a few raptors about. Nothing rare expected, but as it was warm and sunny in early Spring, I expected a few to be on the wing.

In fact, as I was getting my gear together at the back of my car, I could hear the 'mewing' call of a Buzzard, looked up and there it was displaying! You can't beat watching Buzzards displaying; closing their wings, diving, opening their wings again and pulling up calling. Magic! In addition to this first bird, I observed several individual Buzzards displaying and it was difficult to tell how many were involved, but I have entered ten in my notebook.

In addition to the Buzzards were four Kestrels making use of the warm weather and gaining height from the thermals. No other species were involved on the Thursday, but it was nevertheless a great raptorial display!


A few winter thrushes were still knocking about in the form of 24 Redwings, 33 Fieldfares and a continental male Blackbird. The only other sighting of note, and it too was encouraged by the warm sunshine was a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly on the wing.

Friday was another sunny day, but it dawned cold at my survey site with clear skies and a south-easterly wind. Raptors were again present, but not in the same number, but I did have two additional species over yesterday; a Sparrowhawk and a second calendar year male Peregrine.

I noticed the young male Peregrine perched on top of an electricity pylon with a Carrion Crow for company. The Carrion Crow was getting as close as it dared, looking at the Peregrine, looking at it!

Just two Buzzards and a single Kestrel today. Interestingly I had no winter thrushes, other than a single Fieldfare. I heard Skylark and Siskin going over, but as they were in the stratosphere, I have no idea of knowing whether they were singular or plural, but at least it was a sign of spring!

A number of Chaffinches were around this morning, ten, including two singing birds close to my VP.


Also close to my VP was a Brown Hare in the field north of my location and sadly it didn't come my side of the sheep netting, as you will see from the picture below.

The forecast is looking grim for the next couple of days, so it might be towards the end of the week before I get out again.

Sunday 8 March 2020

The Ice Duck Remains

Mid-week saw me back in the northeast near Berwick, and the weather over the winter has certainly frustrated me with this site. I have never been able to plan a few days in advance when I was going to complete a survey, and it has always been a case of reacting at short notice to a window in the weather, making a quick dash through the Borders, and this was the case this week.

On the day of my survey it was the most pleasant it has been for several surveys, mainly because the wind was just a light westerly, although there was still a ground frost that challenged my toes!

It was a high-water count on this day and close to one of my VPs out on the river were eight males and two female Eiders. The light was great, and this really showed off the colours of the males. The males were displaying with their characteristic cooing display-call that the Collins Bird Guide describes as a "far carrying a-ooh-e"; a little bit like how Monty Python might caricature some gossiping fish wives in one of their sketches. I think you know what I mean.

 Eiders (above & below)

Talking of courtship and display, the Goldeneyes were equally as busy, and the six males amongst the 35 females/immatures were busy throwing their heads back onto their backs, and then stretching their necks up, with an upwards pointing bill. Marvellous!

As the week before, the female Long-tailed Duck was hanging out with the Goldeneyes, and wherever the flock went the Ice Duck went too. A couple of Shags, and adult and a second calendar year bird, floated past my VP and were constantly diving.


Two species of diver is always bonus and this morning it was a couple of Red-throated Divers and a distant Black-throated Diver from my second VP.

A few species of wader were moved around by the incoming tide and these included fourteen Curlews, 123 Redshanks, thirteen Oystercatchers and seventeen Turnstones.

A number of Pink-footed Geese headed northwest during the morning, 476 to be exact, and 21 Whooper Swans followed. Other than a male Sparrowhawk over the dunes, and fifteen alarm calling Linnets that were alarm calling at the Sparrowhawk that was it.

Not too bad for a survey executed at short notice!

Friday 6 March 2020

Birds Canada

Canada has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, mainly because of having family in southern Ontario, and over the years I have visited them a few times and done some birding over there.

I also had the privilege of spending a year volunteering at Long Point Bird Observatory, and it was after that that I became a member of Bird Studies Canada. After 60 years Bird Studies Canada has now become Birds Canada, and I have an immense respect for the organisation and the work that they do. They are very much Canada's equivalent of the BTO!

My Winter 2020 copy of Birdwatch Canada (Birds Canada's quarterly journal) dropped through my letterbox a couple of weeks ago, and amongst the usual interesting articles was one on the 'State of Canada's Birds', and this was a summary of the State of Canada's Birds 2019 report. And again it has many similarities to our The State of the UK's Birds report here in the UK, not least some of the major impacts on bird populations both sides of the Atlantic.

The report showed that in Canada some bird groups are recovering compared to their numbers in the 1970s, while others are in serious trouble. Shore birds, grassland specialists and aerial insectivores (Swifts, Swallows, Nighthawks, Whippoorwills and Flycatchers) are declining drastically. On the plus side many birds of prey species in Canada and wildfowl are steadily increasing.

One of the biggest threats to bird populations over here and on the other side of the 'pond' is climate change. Climate change threatens 66% of species in North America if we don't take action to tackle it/slow it down, or "don't siginicantly alter our course" as the State of Canada's Birds 2019 puts it.

Other common threats are neonicotinoid pesticides that hamper song birds fattening up for migration, that then delays their migration south in the Autumn. And 'neonics' are a threat over here too.

Just like the BTO in the UK, Birds Canada is reliant upon the hard work put in by volunteers that carry out many thousands of hours of fieldwork to provide data on changing bird populations that enable conservationists to put conservation measures in place, or provide the evidence to enable them to pressure the government to introduce policies to put conservation measures in place.

Without organisations such as Birds Canada, and other similar organisations around the world, the world would be a poorer place. Give them all the help you can....please.

This is a male American Redstart, one of my favourite North American 
warbler species, that I ringed at Long Point Bird Observatory in 2005.

Monday 2 March 2020

Dynamic Hedges

In conjunction with one of my clients I started work on the concept of 'Dynamic Hedges' in 2013. My client tasked me to come up with a hedge mix that could provide some pollen and nectar in every month of the year, as well as supplying food over-winter for birds and small mammals. No problem there then!

Tony was very much conscious of the fact that most of our grasslands are impoverished from a biodiversity perspective, and wondered whether it was possible to increase the amount of pollen and nectar in hedges to try and compensate for this, a little bit at least.

Most hedges in the modern agricultural landscape have their origins from the enclosures period in the nineteenth century, when large areas of land were divided up and either hedges and walls were used to form the boundaries. These hedges had to be stock proof, no post & wire fencing with sheep netting and a strand of barb then, and a great deal of 'thorn', mainly Hawthorn, was used in the hedgerow mix.

Fields today are made stock proof through the use of the above mentioned post and wire fencing, and therefore hedgerows don't need as much thorn in the mix, and other species can be introduced. Although hedgerows don't have as much value from an agricultural perspective, and they probably have more value from a biodiversity perspective, there is still some value of hedges to livestock in providing shade and shelter.

I came up with a mix of 21 species of plants for the new dynamic hedges with input from our hedger, Richard, and Tony agreed the mix and we set to work planting the dynamic hedges at one of Tony's farms in Lancashire.

The other difference between the dynamic hedge and a traditional hedge is the specification for planting. The dynamic hedge is planted 3 m wide, three rows thick at nine plants per metre. A traditional hedge planted under an agri-environment scheme for example, is 2 m wide, two rows thick and planted at six plants per metre. So the dynamic hedge is a much more weighty hedge.

Below is a list and percentages of the plants that we use in our dynamic hedges:
Hedge Plant
Percentage of Total
English Oak
Common Gorse
Cherry Plum
Goat Willow
Field Maple
Wild Cherry
Wild Pear
Bay Willow
Bird Cherry
Crab Apple
Dog Rose
Guelder Rose
Honey Suckle
Birch sp.

Since the original concept of the dynamic hedges their use has moved on beyond that of just increasing the diversity, and ultimately the pollen and nectar available in the hedge, to that of climate change adaptability, carbon sequestration and even an element of re-wilding. I'll come back to this in a moment.

It is worth mentioning that the word 'dynamic' is crucial in terms of these hedges, and the above planting mix is not meant to be a 'one size fits all', this was a mix that I felt would work at my clients farm in north Lancashire where they were first trialled. The idea is for them to be dynamic and the species mix can be altered to suit local environmental factors such as soil type, climate, moisture etc.

We have had some input from academics and organisations, and the eminent ornithologist Professor Ian Newton kindly had a look at the hedges 3-4 years after they were first planted, and he was impressed with the rate of establishment and diversity within the hedge. At this stage I hadn't included Birch sp. in the mix, and it was Ian's suggestion to do so.

We organised a training day for the National Trust to give them the opportunity of looking at the hedges in the hope that they might adopt the principle of dynamic hedges on some of their properties and estates. Since the training day the National Trust at Dunham Massey is actively establishing hedges that follow dynamic hedges principles, and the specification of the hedge and their raison d'etre have been circulated widely to staff in the northwest region and nationally, and has been well received.

The National Trust said to us that "it is clear that Dynamic Hedges are well designed to help deliver NT vision for High Nature Status farming across our farmed estate as part of our Land Outdoors and Nature programme...and that the...approach to the establishment of new, species-rich hedges is endorsed by the National Trust and that we are looking at ways to incorporate...this...thinking into our management when suitable opportunities arise". 

Since then colleagues of mine in Cheshire and Northumberland have been looking at dynamic hedges, and looking at ways to develop them further for carbon sequestration on farms, and perhaps a type of re-wilding by increasing the width of the hedges to 6 m. 

Adaptation to climate change is also a crucial element of dynamic hedges. Plants are very slow, understandably, to adapt to climate change mianly because they can't move (or not very quickly), so establishing hedges with a diverse mix of plant species will most certainly help hedges adapt to a warming climate, and ensure that hedges are very much a part of the landscape, providing habitat for bird species moving because of climate change. 

The other important aspect of dynamic hedges is disease resilience. We don't know what or when the next disease will be that could potentially affect hedgerows. Think of Ash dieback and the devastating affect this will ultimately have on hedges in the north of England, where Ash is often the main hedgerow tree. Increasing the diversity within the hedge, increases the ability of the hedge to withstand disease.

I can hear you asking why haven't you mentioned this work before? And the answer is mainly that it has been a work in progress. We wanted to see how well the hedges established and how easy they would be to manage with traditional hedge management techniques such as hedge laying. We, I say we when I mean Richard, have already layed a hedge that was only planted in 2013. It was laid just six years after planting, that is how quickly these hedges establish. Richard tells me that it was one of the easiest hedges he has laid.

More work is required, but the time is right to get dynamic hedges out there, and we are working on that with the National Trust. I just thought I would give them a shout out to readers of my blog, to help spread the word.

Below are various pictures of dynamic hedges at the farm in north Lancashire where the first of these hedges were established.

One of the first dynamic hedges to be planted in 2013 (above), and how it 
looked in 2017 below.

 The above was a dynamic hedge planted in an exposed position in 2014, and 
how it looked in 2019!

Over on the right you will see that I have updated Fylde Ringing Group ringing totals up until the end of February. Again, Linnet is the only species in double figures and the totals so far this year are solely down to Phil and Andy. The only new species added to the list in February were Wren, Blackbird, Goldcrest and Dunnock.