Carrie Riches from the North Somerset and Bristol Group recently attended the 37th National Hedge Laying Championships with a Hawk and Owl Trust stand, this is her review of the event. Thank you Carrie.
“The 37th National Hedge Laying Championships were held on land next to Chew Valley Lake on the 24th October 2015. This year a Countryside section was included as an added interest for the general public, and to demonstrate the connection between good hedgerow management and its importance as a habitat for wildlife. The North Somerset and Bristol Group was pleased to have been invited to attend.The weather forecast was not good so for mutual protection we snuggled up to the Somerset Wildlife Trust stand, which turned out to be very convenient, especially for our international visitors.
It proved to be a fascinating day, albeit very wet! Pat and I were intrigued to see the different styles of hedging, but the most interesting part was talking to some of the spectators who came to visit our stand. We met a couple from Los Angeles who had come to the UK specifically for this event, to see if there were concepts and techniques that could be transferred to the habitat surrounding their reserve in Cambodia. Another group had come from Canada for a hedging conference and were exploring similar ideas, investigating whether hedging could provide corridors through managed agricultural areas to the un- managed ‘wild-lands’, de-conflicting public access and farming practices. The hedgerows could also be corridors for wildlife! Two of them also did a lot of ringing, or banding as it is called, so spent time comparing notes with Chris. The international flavour continued with a Phd student from New Zealand studying hedgehogs, and two hedge-layers from Holland demonstrating the Dutch style of hedging! Apparently the traditions and skills relating to hedging had pretty much died out in Holland, though there were areas where interest was being re-kindled. We also received several inquiries on management techniques and the sourcing and siting of nest boxes from UK landowners.
By the end of the day, the surrounding hedges had been transformed and the somewhat damp competitors awaited the verdicts of the judges. Next year’s event will be held in the Cheshire area, though the venue has yet to be confirmed.”