Its amazing how much wildlife you can encourage into your garden just by letting it grow naturally. Up until a few years ago we used to mow this paddock several times a year. Today many would see it as field of weeds but to me its a wildlife haven. I included the barn in the image below, as it is also an important part of the habitat. Lots of insects and spiders benefit from the red brick walls that warm up in the sun throughout the day. Some of my best findings have been discovered around the edge of the building making it an important area of my study.
The area of study: Paddock
Various species of arachnids living in the paddock
In order to encourage particular wildlife, I laid down six chip board panels amongst the grass. The panels provide a whole host of wildlife with shelter and in some cases a home. The boards warm up nicely in the sun which the snakes particularly benefit from.
A litter of bank voles in a nest under one of the panels
Within a week of putting down the panels, I had mice, voles, shrews and grass snakes living underneath them. Over the course of the summer I have lost count of the number of nesting voles that I have encountered under the boards.
The population of bank voles in the paddock is booming. Everywhere I look I find new nests. If you just sit and listen your can hear squeaking and rustling coming from within the long grass.
Amazingly, bank voles become sexually mature at just five weeks old. Female bank voles can produce up to four or five litters a year which explains the numbers found within my paddock.
I have been documenting the bank voles with the aid of my field studio to create ‘Meet Your Neighbours’ style images.
To be continued…