Further to my earlier blog about hedge-cutting dates – it seems that I was foolish not to follow my erstwhile rule of thumb which is that if the NFU says something then it is likely to be wrong.
My attention has been drawn (by my olders and betters – though not by the author of the paper itself) to the 17-year-old paper of Prof Ian Newton FRS which used data from his studies of Bullfinches around Oxford in the 1960s (An alternative approach to the measurement of seasonal trends in bird breeding success: a case study of the bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula. Journal of Animal Ecology 1999
The last young Bullfinches left their nests in late September or even in early October. Moreover, late-fledged Bullfinches accounted for a substantial proportion of Bullfinches fledged, and the most productive Bullfinch breeding seasons were those with the highest proportions of late-fledging birds. Well, there you go, I didn’t know that. That surprises me, although the thing that doesn’t surprise me is that the great Ian Newton found this out.
And so it seems that cutting hedges in August would be bad news for the Bullfinch. Indeed, cutting hedges in September looks like it would be pretty bad news too. We can now look forward to the new Secretary of State for Defra showing her contempt for Brussels bureaucrats, who clearly never get out into the countryside, and setting the cutting date for hedges to 1 October rather than the current 1 September and certainly not the 1 August demanded by our custodians of the countryside.