The sound of destruction

A cooler and cloudier morning than of late. I took a very laid back stroll along the minor road that runs down the middle of Canons Farm. Quite a few sluggish butterflies were on the wing, including this Comma (above). In the still air the quiet was punctuated by a small amount of bird song, including three singing Yellowhammers (below). It was altogether restful and the lack of action barely mattered. This peace was, however, soon sullied. Machinery was started up and the noise emanating from it crept closer. I knew what it would be before I saw it, and when it finally appeared around the corner of a mature hedgerow my fears were confirmed - a tractor armed with a hedgerow cutter. This lump of metal was levelled against the sides of the verdant vegetation and the growth torn off, leaving ragged, broken branches and chomped leaves. There is nothing careful about this procedure, it is a rape of the growth. The flora at the base of the hedge was also cruelly destroyed.

What of the birds still nesting? Obviously they do not count. The RSPB suggest that hedges are not cut back between March and August. Section 1 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 states that is an offence to intentionally take, damage or destroy a nest of any wild bird when it is in use or being built. The person(s) who ordered this cutting back will, if challenged, deny any knowledge of birds nesting, so that there could be no intention in their actions. Today is July 18th, and it is almost inconceivable that several hundred metres of healthy hedge would not have birds nesting in it. Our wildlife needs all the help it can get. It hasn't had much help this morning.


Derek Faulkner said…
It is one of those annual events that makes you wonder why you try and defend farmers/landowners at times. Not only does that flailing leave the hedge in an awful mess, with some resultant die-back, it is often difficult to see the actual need for it at times. Here on Sheppey the annual ditch cutting is taking places on parts of the Harty farmland. Tractors using similar machinery to that used on the hedges, cut the banks and contents of the ditches, meaning that any Reed Warblers, etc. nests in the tall phragmites reed beds get cut down and destroyed as well.
Steve Gale said…
I despair at times Derek, and today is one of them.
Phil Slade said…
There is really very little excuse in this day and age for such mindless destruction by someone who should know better. If possible the farmer should be named and shamed on local media, but then the namers would by some become the bad guys.
Steve Gale said…
Social media has watered down meaningful reproach Phil, as so many keyboard warriors out there have normalised it. Plus the rise of the followers of the Fake News model. We live in deeply troubling times.
Chris Janman said…
Quote from Roger Deakin's Wildwood, an excellent book btw,"I know of nothing uglier or more saddening than a machine-flailed hedge. It speaks of the disdain of nature and craft that still dominates our agriculture ".
Steve Gale said…
Couldn't agree more Chris. Have you read Waterlog?

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