Plant a wood for nightingales CANCELLED BECAUSE OF WEATHER

PUBLISHED: 21:00 04 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:09 20 February 2013

Plant a wood for nightingales CANCELLED BECAUSE OF WEATHER

Plant a wood for nightingales CANCELLED BECAUSE OF WEATHER

Come along to Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's Sandpool Farm nature reserve, near Oaksey, on Sunday December 5th between 11am and 3pm and plant 1,000 trees that will help nightingales sing. Hot chocolate, mulled wine and cake offered to volunteers!

Come along to Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts Sandpool Farm nature reserve, near Oaksey, on Sunday December 5th between 11am and 3pm and plant 1,000 trees that will help nightingales sing. Hot chocolate, mulled wine and cake will be offered to those who volunteer.


The event coincides with The Tree Councils National Tree Week, which this year runs from 27 November -5 December.



A roaring bonfire and marquee will provide warmth and shelter while singer-songwriter Talis Kimberley offers musical accompaniment. It will also be a chance to buy home made preserves made from the fruit of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trusts traditional orchard.



But above all else you will be providing a breeding ground for these little brown birds with the astonishing song.



From April to June the male nightingale pours his soul into making a song so beautiful that it will attract a mate. So rich are his liquid notes they have inspired poets such as Keats and Coleridge.



Sadly their song is fast disappearing from our landscape. For the last 40 years the population has dramatically fallen up to 90% according to some reports. It is thought that problems in its African wintering grounds and habitat loss here in Britain are behind the fall in numbers.



Now the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is taking action to boost their numbers. Nightingales breed in our Swillbrook Lakes nature reserve but we are encouraging them to spread into neighbouring Lower Moor Farm and Sandpool Farm reserves too. To do this we need to plant the kind of trees, hedges and scrub that will provide more nesting sites and help them to make that move, says Neil Pullen, the Trusts senior community wildlife officer.



Nightingales nest in low scrub or coppiced woodland. The varied undergrowth of plants such as brambles and honeysuckle that thrive in coppiced woodland provides nesting sites and plenty of insects to feed on. However, an increase in the population of deer, who browse on this woodland vegetation, is leaving fewer safe places for nightingales.



Neil says: We will be planting trees around the edge of Sandpool to create a strip of woodland up to 30m thick. Some tall trees will be among the mix to act as singing posts for the males. Crab apple, hawthorn and blackthorn will provide the mid level growth with scrub trees such as guilder rose, hazel, wayfaring and buckthorn to thicken it out.



Students from Swindons New College will be volunteering to prepare the ground beforehand, and will help with refreshments on the day. When volunteers turn up they will find the land has been levelled and marked out with canes. All they need to do is bring along their own spade and fork and they will be given trees to plant out.



Volunteers will also have the opportunity to help plant a 200 metre hedge in the meadow, and to add fruit trees and a fruit hedge to the traditional orchard being developed on the site.



Its not only nightingales that will benefit from the all this planting. It will attract an abundance of bees and butterflies, such as the rare brown hairstreak and, by encouraging invertebrates such as beetles and slugs; it will be filling the larder for the amphibians that feed on them, like great crested newts.



For more information contact Neil Pullen on (01793) 814768, email neilp@wiltshirewildlife.org



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