Hedgerows must surely be one of the Sun's most brilliant creations and habitats, don't you think? Here, mammals live next to Insects, Vertebrates, Birds and plants. However it is not all love and peace among all these species which are compacted into a very small and tight space which they can call home. Here, the hunt is ongoing, whether it involves nocturnal (nighttime) or diurnal (daytime) species, Life consists of finding and building a home where you can hide from predators, raise a family, and find food for yourself and your young. It might look easy, with having your food living right at your doorstep. Well, in that case you are wrong. We have a lot easier life as humans, with the supermarket down the road or a short drive from home.
In the hedgerow hunting for food, means you have to get outside into the open and leave your kids alone, hoping these will still be there when the parent returns. 'Outside' there are other, just as hungry, creatures waiting for you to step outside your little nest or hole. Plants too, play an active role in the life-blood which keeps the hedgerow alive and in all its health and glory. In order to survive, a plant needs seed which it can spread around, making sure that in the spot the seed drops down, a new generation will develop. In order to spread their seed, the plants need help. Help from another hedgerow resident, the winged insect. But how do you attract these to you, in making sure that the Bees, Wasps, Butterflies and Moths, plus the hundreds of Fly species, will choose you instead of your neighbour or any of the other rivals? You need something sweet to make it worthwhile to opt for you. So hence the birth of the flower, pollen, and its sweet nectar. Others had bigger aspirations and wanted to go further away from the local hedgerow. In order to do that, they started to attract birds with fruit, among others.
Wild Ivy, is one of the most prolific hedgerow specie in our village, I think. They also surround our council estate and they are occupied by all kind of species, House Sparrows live in it, as do perhaps the many Moths which usually visit my garden and house.
And not only is it the food-plant of Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies and the Red Admiral, Peacock Butterflies are also known to hibernate in the Wild Ivy around the country. And with 3 new species of Butterflies breeding in Ireland it might become busier in future.
(mind you, I have only seen no Peacock in the garden last summer, despite the many Nettles and other weeds growing in the garden! Did have an heap of Small Tortoiseshell and Cabbage White Butterflies in my garden. In the hedgerows along my 'botany road' I saw Meadow Browns, a few other Red Admirals. But all in all in much smaller numbers than in the years before.
Ivy, Hedera helix.
Field Mouse-ear is also one of the local hedgerow flowers where it spreads into large patches of white little stars, with gravity have them hang down. These photos were taken along the coastal road at Dunmanus Bay, south side of the Sheepshead Peninsula. Bot sides of the road would be totally white.
Field Mouse ear, Cerastium arvense
Primroses is often the first flower we see in the hedgerows, and I've now also seen the cultivated form in graveyards. More exuberant than the little ones along the road, gardeners must love it for their early colour also, I assume.
Primrose, Primula vulgaris
During the summer, Cork county council comes with their enormous shearer to give those valuable hedgerows an intensive cut and shave. Although garden plants rejuvenate in general after cutting down and dead heading, life in the hedgerow depend on the lush growth for shelter, breeding and food.
Shorn hedgerow, Sheep'shead Peninsula, county Cork.
Last year the Irish minister Gormly (Heritage and Environment) , sent a reminder to all local authorities as a reminder to a provision in in the Wildlife Act, in relation to the cutting of hedges and other areas of uncultivated vegetation between 1 March and 31 August.and receiving an email, recently, about this made me very happy initially, but the fact that this mail was sent to the council in February or earlier in 2008, and that I still found the hedges cut a few months later is perhaps not such a good omen for this year.
I wonder would anybody ever have made a blind guess at how many species are alive in a square metre of hedgerow? It would end in a line of many, many and more zeros. Millions? Billions? Trillions?
And with 44,608km of hedgerow in the county of Cork, we can confidently add three more zeros to all those numbers. .
The Irish Wildlife Trust is asking for our cooperation in making sure that our local authorities learn that this provision in the Act means that hedge/verge or any other wild green/colourful area should stay untouched.
SO Please, if you live in the republic of Ireland, and you do see any cutting of wild hedges, road verges, please Take a Note, a picture, and remember the date.
You can report this, by Time, Date, and location.
Then you can send this info to http://www.iwt.ie
We need to act as Nature's Watchdogs, unfortunately, and your help would be most useful. The minister asks us to be vigilant of hedge cutters in particular, and perhaps we can have a truly wild hedgerow summer this year?
Lets all make it clear that we need to protect this wonderful habitat. Also, please make sure that your family and friends are aware of this inhumane act against our wildlife.
This, Fuschia, is perhaps one of the most iconic Irish hedgerow species, seen in South West Ireland today.
Fuscia, Fuchsia magellanica.
Seen along the coastal road, Dunmanus Bay, northside
Not really hedgerow species, more roadside and banks, still a little more colour.
Plantain Ribwort, Plantago Lanceolata
Dandelion, Taraxacum Officianala.
The little Herb Robert
Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum
In spring Irish hedgerows come alive, first with Primroses, and then the next burst of colour arrives soon afterwards on the ground level. Little Flowers like Herb Robert, with its sweet pink face