These dates break with our tradition of doing the sites in-turn, Meadow – Orchard – Hedgerow. Traditionally, we have managed to get five full “cycles” across the sites. In the past, we have had sessions into April, but this is getting too close to nesting so, we have decieded to stop at the end of March.
The reason for the change is that we have the start of an Orchard only group that we wish to encourage. Consequently, we will have all our Orchard work parties on a Sunday, with the most of these occurring before Christmas.
We will concentrate on the Meadow but the Hedgerow still gets its fair share of work parties, but only on a Thursday.
There have been hedgehogs in the Orchard for a number of years. As a nocturnal animal which hibernates in Winter it is difficult to say how many we have or have had. We do not see them every year when working on the winter maintenance programme –and when we do it usually means there is a problem!
Hedgehogs are in trouble throughout the UK with numbers falling rapidly over the last 25 years. Kempshott has a number of hedgehog hot spots – we know of at least 3 between Kempshott Lane and the Roman Trackway to the west. We would dearly like to support a hotspot in the north east of the ward – and The Orchard is a perfect spot with several good hibernation areas (mainly the piles of maintenance arisings which we accumulate each year and removed every year or two in mid-summer when hedgehogs need them least).
But hedgehogs need space – good foraging space – and adjacent gardens are the perfect places. For that to work we need to create a series of Hedgehog Highways – it’s simple, all that is needed is a single hole 13cms (or 5 inches) square at the bottom of your fence to let hedgehogs in and out of your garden.
This month we found a small hoglet which we have taken to Hart Animal Rescue as it was under weight and would not survive the Winter without help. We hope to pick it up again in Spring and release it back into the Orchard.
Meanwhile, we need to prepare a more viable environment for next Spring. Will you or anyone in your family join us and make a Highway?