Loss of habitat

During the twenty-five years I have lived at my current address I have tried to make my garden as wildlife-friendly as I can. I'm sure many people here recognise the importance of undisturbed hedges and verges alongside roads and railways as vital habitats for wildlife. Even with my poor skills in recognising wild birds I have identified almost thirty species on my feeders. I have also sat out during the evening with a bat detector listening to pipistrelles hunting and have seen and photographed visiting squirrels, hedgehogs, foxes and badgers, mainly due to the railway cutting at the end of the garden acting as a wildlife corridor. The bats disappeared a few years ago when Bloor Homes built a new housing estate in the fields beyond the railway, grubbing out a hedge where bats roosted in old trees in the process. Worse, in recent weeks Network Rail have employed contractors to remove growth from the railway cutting down almost to the last blade of grass. A trackside surveyor I spoke to last year said that the field maple adjacent to my garden fence was unlikely to be touched, despite being ten metres high, as it was far enough from the line to pose no threat to railway safety. It has, however, been removed along with most bushes and shrubs that were a couple of metres tall at most, and even the nettles and other undergrowth have been strimmed down to ground level. Sawn-off timber has been shredded so not even logs remain to provide for insect life. Consequently what was once a useful wildlife corridor and habitat has been destroyed and turned into a desert. The bullfinches that were, (from their frequent trips to the feeders), rearing their second brood, have gone, along with the great tits and robins. All I have seen in my garden over the past few days are caterpillars and rats that are trying to escape the devastation and seeking alternative sources of food and shelter. Many residents of this road who, like myself, took delight in providing for wildlife as much as possible, are shocked and angry at this action. Habitats are disappearing under concrete all around Warwickshire which, once a rural county, now harbours only new housing estates and acres of warehouses. We try to contribute to the welfare of wildlife, doing what we can in our own small way, just to witness it all being swept away in a matter of days by an act of corporate vandalism. I thought that wildlife organisations were working to educate people about the importance of conservation, but clearly the message is being ignored. I believed that laws existed to protect the valuable, threatened and ever-diminishing British wildlife from unnecessary and mindless destruction such as this. I have complained to Network Rail about their actions and have not so far received the courtesy of a reply. I really don't know what else I can do other than despair. I apologise if this sounds over-emotional but I feel angry and saddened beyond words. I really wish I had not witnessed these events.
  • Hi Paul Welcome to the community from Sheffield.

    Sorry to hear about all the habitat destruction around you, I know firms like network rail are a law unto themselves, there is about a 5 mile stretch on my local line has had all the trees and shrubs removed so they could put new fencing up, there must have been a lot of wildlife displaced on that stretch.

    My Flickr photos

  • In reply to Alan.:

    Hi Alan, thanks for your welcome and empathy.

    That's what is happening here. I had a letter from Network Rail on August 18th, backdated to the 7th, stating that work will start on September 11th despite the fact that it has been going on for several weeks already.

    They can't even be honest about what they're doing, so they must be aware of how provocative their actions are. No hedgehogs, foxes or badgers have appeared on my camera trap since the work started, only cats.

    If they put up a chainlink fence then the wildlife won't be able to get into gardens to forage. A wildlife corridor is only useful if it connects places otherwise it's just a dead end.

  • In reply to Paul J:

    Since this work started the local sparrowhawk has taken to hunting in my garden several times per day instead of a couple of times per week as it did previously.

    Not only have the birds lost their habitat, they are now at much greater risk of being predated, thanks to Network Rail's illegal ground clearance. Network Rail have refused to supply details of the ecological survey they were supposed to have carried out before work started, despite a request under the Freedom of Information Act. It is my suspicion that no such survey was ever carried out.

    I estimate that the number of birds visiting my garden has dropped by at least 90%. I still cannot believe that there is no organisation willing to stand up and fight these acts of deliberate destruction.