Na­ture needs con­nec­tions

Rochdale Observer - - WILDLIFE -

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.

Peter Smith

●●Wil­low Tit at Wi­gan Flashes

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