St Swithuns Wildlife Habitat
About the project:
St Swithuns' wildlife habitat is a
fantastic micro-nature reserve, the church stands at the centre on
an island being completely surrounded by several brooks.
Otter, heron, little egret, stag beetle and bats are just some of
the wildlife species observed, and banks provide a good wildflower
area, look out for water avens, hemp agrimony,
comfrey, cuckoo flower and meadowsweet to name just a few.
A public footpath (FP7) runs down from School Lane down to the church, and then to London Road.
In the past this habitat has been managed for wildlife,
and in particular for water voles. Water voles are Britainís
fastest declining mammal, and the habitat where they live is
protected. Headbourne Worthy parish council has been working
in partnership with Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust,
specifically to protect and encourage water voles, but also other
wildlife living in this beautiful habitat.
Management of the habitat has included pollarding of
bank side trees to allow in more light, encouraging vegetation to
grow both on the banks and in the water channel. This provides food
and shelter for the water voles which make burrows in the banks.
In addition, water vole-friendly hazel faggots (bundles of hazel
twigs) have been positioned in the water channels to shore up the
banks, speed up the water flow and thereby remove some of the silt.
Each Autumn, the vegetation on the bank sides and wilder areas of
the churchyard is cut on rotation. A section is always left to
provide cover for over-wintering wildlife. The mature willow
in front of the church porch is unfortunately nearing the end of
its life. It has been heavily pollarded to leave a sculptural
trunk. This will in time provide and excellent dead wood habitat
for a wide variety of wildlife. Woodpeckers and other birds,
insects, fungi and climbers such as ivy all colonise standing dead
wood. Native honeysuckle has been planted to grow up the
trunk, and bird and bat boxes erected on this and other trees, to
provide extra nesting and roosting homes for wildlife here.
St Swithun's Church is located at grid
SU 487 319.
Worthys Conservation Volunteers has
been carrying out conservation work on the site for a couple of
years now. This will continue for the foreseeable future.
St Swithuns Habitat Article - October 2011
Bat & Moth Watch Task Report - August 2009
St Swithuns Habitat Improvement Task Report - November 2008
St Swithuns Habitat Improvement Task Report - January 2008
St Swithuns Habitat Improvement Task Report - October 2007
St Swithuns Habitat
Improvement Task Report - September 2007
St Swithun's Church Habitat Improvement Plan - September 2007
Footpath 7 Improvement Task Report - September 2007
Footpath 7 Improvement Plan - September 2007