Sunday, 20 June 2010

Dirt track disaster

You may remeber my blog entries concerning the dirt track that runs past our house (for back entrances to houses that back onto it), Portslade Old Village

It's always full of bird activity, from sparrows and starlings to goldfinch, robin and more. A large bramble patch is alive with the buzzing of several bee species, hoverflies and also visited by butterflies. In fact last year I found a few painted lady butterflies there. The track also has visits from the occasional hedgehog and slowworms also can be seen from time to time in hot weather.

At night I have been watching bats, which spend about 20 minutes flying up and down and across the track before moving onto another feeding site. A handsome fox also uses the track to its shadowy shape can be seen exploring one bank then another patch of vegetation before eventually reaching our garden.

You can imagine my horror when I returned yesterday, after being out all day, to find the vegetation on all sides of the tracks had been decimated.
The bramble, full with more flowers than it has been for many years, almost ready to start to fruit has gone too. Several people in the neighbourhood would get our supply of blackberries here, people walking their dog as they went past would eat the odd blackberry and there would still be some left for the wildlife.

We managed to catch the people involved as they were leaving. It was a group of youths on community service, with a group leader. The leader said they had been instructed by the council to do this and when I queried it he said it had been done FOR the local residents. I don't seem to remember being asked or receiving notification that it was going to happen. The team was even provided porti loos

When I queried this they said that the track had been checked for wildlife and nesting birds - I can't imagine how they missed it all!

The track is much quieter now (only the occasional birds and no bees). I had previously done a survey for Brighton and Hove's Big Nature - Bee Aware.

This is what I recorded in just a 2 minute survey on the bramble opposite our house.

9 white tailed bumble bees, 7 honey bees and 1 brown carder bee

The bats I have only seen twice since, flying straight overhead, no foraging in the track and the fox looks very confused too. I have seen only a couple of Honey Bees in my garden since the bramble has been removed.

My concern is not just for my lost little haven but for other similar green tracks that may suffer the same fate.

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