Hidden in the hedgerows

Hidden in the hedgerows

The summer brings with it a profusion of wildlife in many of the wilder areas of the countryside. From blooming wildflowers to the sounds of birdsong, there is so much going on.

But many of our mammalian friends are out of sight out of mind, especially in the summer as they hide away in the dense vegetation. This week, we take a look at what some of our furry friends are up to at this time of year.

Feeding up

Hazel dormice might be most familiar as an autumnal species, getting ready to bed down for winter. They wake in spring, and from then on, it’s a race to pile on the pounds for the colder months. During summer, they are at their most active, clambering around hedges and trees, looking for their favourite food. Already cute, one of the biggest components of their summer diet is flowers. Honeysuckle and bramble flowers make up a significant proportion of their diet before they turn to nuts in the autumn.

Up in the air

Bats are giving birth at this time of year, usually to a single pup which the mothers nurse in a maternity roost. The young bats take about four weeks before they start to learn to fly, growing quickly in that time. Some will still be suckling from mum until August. To help keep a steady supply of milk for their young, the adult bats must eat thousands of tiny insects every night!  

Long evenings

Many of Britain’s larger mammals are either nocturnal or crepuscular (meaning they come out at dusk, in twilight). The long summer evenings mean a much better chance of spotting this species compared to the winter. Badgers are no exception. Their cubs will be around four months old now and making the most of this time to play. June is an important month for them, as by July, most will be weaned and starting to become independent. The cubs will roll around with each other, play fighting and chasing their siblings around the sett.

Small mammals, like mice and voles, are essential food sources for wildlife higher up the food chain. Healthy habitats contain plenty of food for species low down in the food chain. Increases in their populations lead to increases in predators like large mammals and birds of prey. Creating interlinked corridors for mammals to breed and hunt in is vital and restoring and conserving these habitats is at the heart of the Trust’s work.