Tag Archives: sloes

Hedgerow foraging

Yesterday I was walking what will probably be my last bee and butterfly transect of the year. It has not been a good year for either group. There seems to be much fewer butterflies compared to last year. Still the last couple of days we’ve had lovely autumn sunshine. Much of the transect follows country lanes and the roadside hedgerows are now at their best.

Local hedgerows - note red haws!

Local hedgerows – note red haws!

In Ireland, hedgerows provide an important habitat, particularly as we don’t have much woodland. Hedgerows should be regularly maintained to keep them in good condition but many of our hedgerows are pretty neglected. Still it does not mean that they are not valuable for wildlife. In fact the opposite is true. Ivy is just coming into flower now. This late flowering plant is very important for feeding all sorts of insects late in the season, and many of the ivy plants were humming, mainly with hoverflies.

Flowering ivy

Flowering ivy

At this time of year hedgerows are great for foraging – not just for us but for birds and wild mammals too. The bad summer does seem to be reflected in cropping though. Elderberries aren’t even ripe yet, blackberries are not plentiful and the sloes are small. The rosehips on the other hand seem to have cropped well.

Ash keys appears to be another plant that has cropped well and both old and newer ash trees are dripping with keys.

Haws are turning their vibrant red. They are a really important food source for many of our birds, are seem a particular favourite of blackbirds.