Des Res for Hamptons' wildlife
The Hamptons gained a subterranean housing estate, three new hotels and a bunch of batty new arrivals in June. But no-one’s complaining, because the new ‘dwellings’ are all tailor-made habitats to swell the Hamptons’ population of animal residents.
O&H Hampton’s project team has spent two days constructing a state-of-the-art badger sett, complete with sleeping and breeding chambers and connecting tunnels.
The deluxe new sett is part of a mitigation project to prevent disruption to wildlife as a result of the construction, later this year, of the service road for the new development.
“Our ecological survey of the site found a badger sett and the assumption is that there are badgers there,” says O&H Hampton general manager Roger Tallowin. “So we are creating them a new sett close to the existing one, and the hope is they will move in.”
The sett is sited and designed to recreate all the features of one the badgers would have dug for themselves.
It follows Natural England guidelines and, according to the experts, it is likely that an artificial sett that is well constructed and in a suitable location will be adopted by the badgers.
Homes for voles and newts
Crown Lakes Country Park has acquired three new ‘reptile hotels’ – ponds specially constructed to provide a new and improved breeding area for aquatic wildlife, and in particular water voles and great crested newts presently living in a ditch in the area affected by road construction.
Dense woodland has been removed in the country park to provide an environment more to their liking, and pathways created to encourage them to migrate to the specially created habitat.
Any voles or newts that have not moved by the time construction begins will be trapped and transported to their new homes to prevent them coming to harm.
Both water voles and crested newts are species under threat. Water voles were once common in Britain and inspired the character of ‘Ratty’ in Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 classic The Wind in the Willows. Since then the vole’s numbers have plummeted, and it is the UK’s fastest declining mammal.
Great crested newt numbers have also declined, owing to loss of habitat, and both voles and newts are now heavily protected by law. The good news is that Hampton Nature Reserve has increased the local population of great crested newts from 24,000 to 34,000 over the last 10 years, a 40% increase. It is now Europe’s largest colony.
And, proving that artificially habitats really do appeal to wildlife, bats have taken up residence in Crown Park’s bat cave. The Hamptons now boasts at least seven species of bat, including Bartastelle and Noctule.
Wild facts about the Hamptons
- At least half the land in the Hamptons – more than 1000 acres - is green space.
- More than 120,000 trees have been planted as part of the Hamptons’ development.
- Hamptons’ parkland, lakes and woodland provide a habitat for a huge range of wildlife including at least 27 butterfly species, 198 species of dragonfly and 120 species of water beetle.
- Rare butterflies such as the Black Hairstreak, Grizzled and Dingy Skippers can be found here.
- We have a high diversity of breeding birds including Marsh Harriers, Barn Owls, Grasshopper Warblers, Skylarks, Little Ringed Plovers, Ringed Plovers, Cettis Warbler Lapwings and Kingfishers.
- There are even signs of otters returning to the 7.5 km of Stanground Lode corridor.