Nature needs connections
WHEN you are talking about nature a word that often crops up in conversations is connectivity.
Connectivity is really important in the natural world, if wild places weren’t connected then our wildlife would live in islands with no way to interact with their fellow creatures.
Obviously this creates problems with inbreeding, which means problems with the health and well-being in close-knit families. Joining up with other members of your wildlife family and looking for mates even further field is much better.
We can look at the example of the willow tit. We are lucky to have around 10 per cent of the UK population in North Manchester and South Lancashire. Our willow tits are centred on Wigan and they stretch our across the region like branches from a tree.
This network is proving successful with numbers steadying then increasing in the North West. This connection goes around Derbyshire and into Yorkshire, with branches stretching out into Cheshire too.
Willow tits live in scrubby woodland and many developers will say that this is not important habitat. In fact, some conservationists also see this as a problem for access and would prefer scrub-free woods.
The unfortunate thing about the willow tit is that it won’t travel more than a few hundred yards from its “patch”. So when someone builds a house across the network the bird becomes isolated – it is Britain’s most endangered small bird.
Willow tits are not as brightly coloured as other tits, but they are still lovely birds. They have black back, cap and bib and are pale brown and white below. They give a distinctive “zee, zee, zee” call.
Willow tits are so important in our area that if you see one you should report it to the local record centre so they can estimate the numbers locally.
The North West is generally good for connectivity as we have lots of green areas which are connected by valleys, rivers and canals. Even motorways can provide a network for birds, animals and plants to use.
Railway track sides have long been great places to see foxes and badgers as you pass by on the train. It’s just a shame that some of these connecting routes are also deadly for much wildlife.
One important way we can create our own wildlife corridors is by making our gardens more wildlife friendly. If every garden in a street has wild areas and a way to get through bushes and fences, then that creates a connected nature reserve. Imagine that across a town or city and you have a huge amount of extra habitat, a ginormous nature reserve.
With all the talk about HS2 and many new roads being built, we need to think about our wildlife and just how much damage breaking up their connections and networks is causing.
To become a member of the Trust go to the website at www. lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust. org.uk.
Willow Tit at Wigan Flashes