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Mike's Blog - Day 260

We took the small branches from the crab apple we drastically pruned the other day to the North American Arboretum. The plan was to return there and spend a bit of time creating a good habitat pile for hedgehogs and other small animals. We see the occasional weasel down there sometimes, but it could be a stoat.

A habitat pile would be good in that location as I talk about habitats there to the school children and we see how many animals we can name that take their name from the habitat where you find them. Of course hedgehogs are a perfect example as that’s where leaves and debris gather and they can hibernate. There are lots of creatures that take their names from the place you might find them, tree frogs, wood pigeons, sea lions, snow leopards, desert scorpions, water voles, sea eagles, mountain goats, river trout, grass hoppers, polar bears, arctic foxes, earth worms, pond skaters, pine martins, field mice, meadow pipits, garden spiders, barn owls, fell ponies, fruit flies, dung beetles, house flies, bed bugs  - and so it goes on. I usually win, finally thinking of one last one as I scratch my head – head lice.

We were scratching our heads when we discovered the pile had been totally pulled apart and spread out, like a giant nest. We decided it must have been students messing about then discovered the culprits – the sheep. They had taken to nibbling the twigs and had flattened it all.

I’m glad we hadn’t spent a lot of time building a smart hedgehog habitat. We thought we could maybe do that when we move the sheep out after Christmas, the normal time they get moved.

Then we decided the sheep were probably getting quite hungry too. The amount of tree leaves on the ground in the arboretum increases year on year, leaving less and less grass.

Some parts will be grassy meadow, but other parts are now becoming more suitable places for other wildflowers, such as bluebells, so we perhaps need to think how we start to encourage those. In case the sheep were developing a taste for bark we moved them on Monday into the wildflower meadow. That’s the meadow over the Friends stone “Meadow Bridge”.