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Update due to Covid 19 - Coronavirus
Spring 2020

The Spring Newsletter was written and printed before the restrictions due to the Coronavirus. This is a late update for your information.

The AGM is scheduled for Sunday July 5th, but that may need to be postponed. The Summer Newsletter is due out in June and if it is safe to distribute it then, more information will be given. If we are not able to do that please assume that the AGM is delayed and we will be in touch when we can safely do so and give you good notice of a new date.

We hope that you will understand that further restrictions may prevent us issuing a Newsletter in June, or for some time.

The monthly Work Parties have been cancelled by Basildon Council until further notice for safety, and we fully agree with that decision. As a result the usual maintenance of the reserve may not be up to the usual standard, so please be careful if you go there during the current crisis.

Please take care of your health, and we wish you well.


The Noak Bridge Nature Reserve Society Committee




The Noak Bridge

   

http://www.nbnrs.org.uk

   

Nature Reserve Society

Newsletter  -  Spring  2020


Around the Reserve with the Chairman

Walking the Reserve, you will notice a lot has been done mechanically in cutting back the hedging around the walkways. The tractor tyre tracks will disappear in time and the hedging will eventually hide the ripped unsightly wood where the mechanical flail did its work.

After all that rain the ponds are now holding plenty of water. Hopefully the wildlife will take advantage of the water - dragonflies, mayflies, and frogs to name a few will soon be showing themselves. If you are lucky you may even catch sight of a roe deer as I did one February morning. Muntjac deer are regular visitors to the reserve and roe deer drop in from time to time. Hopefully the proposed nearby development, if it goes ahead, won't close the wildlife corridor!

One worrying thing is the drop in membership numbers. If you are one of those who may have forgotten to renew it's not too late to do so. Also if you know of anyone who isn't a member perhaps you could encourage them to join. The very low Membership fee goes a long way to help in the upkeep of the reserve, and of course helps to keep it open for all to enjoy. Hope to see you enjoying your Reserve.

Ray Batty
Chairman

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HEDGEHOGS

Erinaceus europaeus is the Latin name for the UK hedgehog which is the only spiny British mammal. It is nocturnal and is related to shrews and voles, but not porcupines who are rodents. They are found in mainland Britain and Ireland and have also been introduced to many islands including Orkney, Shetland, Isle of Man and some Channel Islands. They were named because like pigs, they root through undergrowth for food. Shakespeare mentions them in both The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream where he refers to them as 'hedge pigs' and 'urchins'.

Hedgehogs vary in size depending on their age and the head/body is approximately 150-300mm (6-12 inches) and the tail - yes they do have a tail, which is 10-20 mm (½-1 inch approx.). The average life expectancy is 2-3 years, but about 50% die in the first year. They can live up to ten years but this is exceptional. Their back and sides are covered with around 5000-7000, 25mm (1 inch approx.) long spines, which are really modified hairs, but spines are not found on their face, throat, chest, belly or legs. When threatened by predators they are able to roll up into a ball and these spines protect their spineless parts.

Hedgehogs can be found in parks, gardens, cemeteries, railway land and farmland and prefer the edges of woodland, hedgerows and suburban habitats where there is plenty of food. They eat beetles, worms, caterpillars, slugs and anything else they can catch. They will take eggs and chicks from bird nests but very few when compared to foxes and crows. They survive well in gardens particularly if food is put out for them. Dog and cat food is fine but do not give them bread and milk as it gives them diarrhoea.

They travel about 1-2 km (0.6-1.2 miles) each night and return to the same daytime nest a few times then use another, but they sometimes do return to one used previously. They 'do the rounds' and visit several gardens during one night and different individuals may visit a garden over several nights. This could mean that 'your' hedgehog is in fact one of a number of different hedgehogs.

Their courting ritual is a very noisy affair with much grunting and snuffling and they will keep circling each other for hours. Females will have a litter of 4-5 young (but can have more) between April and September although those born late are unlikely to survive as they will not have gained enough weight to survive the winter hibernation. If they are less than 450g (1 lb) they will not have enough fat to last them through until Spring. Hibernation usually begins around November and continues until March, but it does depend on the weather conditions. They do wake up several times during this period and often build a new winter nest called a hibernaculum made from leaves usually under a shrub, garden shed or log pile.

Although there is no scientific evidence that their numbers are declining (there is no way of counting them) general opinion is that there are less of them around. The biggest threat is the loss of habitat due to the change in farming methods, particularly the use of pesticides as the chemicals kill off the creatures that hedgehogs rely on for food or they may ingest the pesticide directly and be poisoned. Many are killed on the road, as their defence mechanism is not to flee the danger but to roll up into a ball, which might be adequate against a fox etc. but not the wheels of a heavy fast moving vehicle. In general the garden is a safe haven for them but it can be hazardous for the unsuspecting hedgehog. Strimmers are lethal as they catch them whilst they are asleep hidden in long grass or undergrowth.

Bonfire heaps should always be checked prior to a match being put to them as they are another favourite bedroom. Ponds and pools can be a problem, although hedgehogs can swim, they are unable to climb out of smooth sided ponds and pools and can drown. These should have a piece of chicken wire fixed and dangling into the water to assist in their getting out. The hedgehog is a gardener's friend so please ensure your garden is hedgehog-friendly and you will be rewarded with less damage to your plants from those nasty slugs etc.

From Tina Steggles, revised original by Joan Fynn


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The AGM will be 3pm, Sunday 5th July 2020


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your Summer Newsletter is due in June 2020

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Helping to protect Noak Bridge Nature Reserve
Your Support Is Greatly Appreciated

   


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last updated - 27 March 2020
URL - http://www.nbnrs.org.uk/news1912/index.html