harborne-groundsFrom Archers of Okçular September 2013

Back in June of this year J and I were in residence for a Summer School at Fircroft College in Birmingham. Fircroft is one of those fine old houses that have extensive grounds with plenty of mature trees and shrubs – it’s a very pleasant place to be. So it was that as we wandered the gardens one day J spotted a strange-looking construction. On closer examination it proved to be a stack of wooden pallets stuffed full of all sorts of scrap building/household materials and garden waste. It had obviously been there a while as all sorts of plants had colonised it.

‘What is it?’ asked J. ‘A habitat.’ said I, knowingly. ‘I want one!’ said J. ‘Really!’ said I, filing that one away in the bottom drawer.

Izmir-mimosa-acacia-retinodesFast forward to this past week. We used to have a rather large Acacia retinoides, known locally as İzmir Mimosa – we rather liked it! We also rather like (amongst other things) Oryctes nasicornis – the European Rhinoceros Beetle which in its turn likes İzmir Mimosa. Last year the tree began to shed bark and looked decidedly unwell and so a week or so ago I began adding to our store of winter logs. As work progressed the culprits and their handiwork became apparent . .

rhino-beetles
male and female Oryctes nasicornis – the European Rhinoceros Beetle
habitat1
the culprits and the crime scene
habitat2
fortunately wearing gloves – the business end of a rather large Anatolian Yellow scorpion that was sharing the grubs’ tunnels

As J and I stood and contemplated our own mortality where the tree once blossomed, she looked up and said, a bit too brightly for my liking, ‘This will be the perfect place for one of those habitat things!’ For someone who worries about the onset of dementia she seems to do remarkably well remembering things/projects I need to be getting on with.

A few days ago a tractor delivered five pallets and the project commenced . .

habitat3
always knew that builder’s stuff would come in useful one day
habitat4
Spike doesn’t like being photographed
habitat5
Spike’s basement flat
habitat6
high-rise des-res coming along nicely

There’s still a bit of work to do to finish off, frog and toad halls, mouse and shrew holes – that said, this has been a fun project for J and me. You too could create something similar to attract all sorts of beneficial creatures to your garden – with natural habitats vanishing or being sanitised you could add your drop to the bucket of conservation. Here’s a link to download a pdf from Cheshire Wildlife Trust that will get you started.

If you are not impressed by what you’ve just seen, then in the best ‘Blue Peter’ tradition, here’s one I made earlier:

pallet-habitat1
. . not true! This was made by Cheshire Wildlife for a RHS garden show

Happy condo building!

Alan in Okçular

ps in case you wondered where Spike’s place actually is . .

habitat7

2 thoughts on “Habitat

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