harborne groundsBack 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

the culprits and the crime scene

fortunately wearing gloves – the business end of a rather large 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 . .

invertibrate habitat

always knew that builder’s stuff would come in useful one day

Spike the hedgehog

Spike doesn’t like being photographed

habitat hedgehog house

Spike’s basement flat

high-rise des-res coming along nicely

ever wondered what to do with those nice containers that the single malt comes in? or the little hessian bags from Şirince wine shops? or those old walking boots?

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 habitat

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

Happy condo building!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

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

20 thoughts on “Habitat

  1. Well, what a feast to the eye; here we are with Mark and Emma checking you out; Emma apparently helped built a natural habitat for the little creatures in her school (now she says to me!:) We remembered going to a wild park near us with school and checking out different natural habitats, a fascination for us all. And Mark is fascinated by that rather large scorpion! – they would be very happy to come and help building yours!: ) Selamlar and thank you for sharing with us, Ozlem

    1. as ever, glad you all enjoyed it. Well done, Emma for building a habitat already. Mark, the scorpion was a larger than usual, Mediterranean Chequered/Anatolian Yellow – the sting is very painful – ask J when you meet her!

    1. . . I think it would work pretty much anywhere – and it needn’t be a pallet stack sized affair, your shelves would do fine just throw in some more clutter!

  2. Alan, Now we know what to do with that Bowmore scotch tube gifted to us by our Australian friends. (That’s such good booze!) Love the project. Goes very well with all of the wonderful bird habitats you’ve built.

  3. Oh, that is so cute, can I move in too. Will Spike make a little space for me. Actually all that stuff kind of looks like the piles junk I have all over my apartment that I can’t bear to throw away.

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