I have been looking at the area of gorse, broom, rosemary and other shrubs on the steep south facing slope below the bowling green. This now well established planting, originally suggested by the first Wildlife Park Group over 10 years ago, is becoming too overgrown with Traveller's Joy (Clematis vitalba) and various other 'intruders'. The Wildlife Group are hoping to clear back some of this unwanted growth (contact email@example.com for further information).
However, while assessing what clearance might need to be done, I spotted a bumblebee queen ( Bombus lucorum or B. terrestris) flying persistently around a patch of rosemary. After several minutes she flew under the bush and went straight to a small hole in the earth where she then wriggled down into it, apparently trying to excavate some of the soil, so that she could go deeper. I am fairly sure she was searching out and then trying to make a suitable hibernation site for herself. If she has settled in there for the winter, will she survive our pruning and gardening activities in that area? Probably not.
This goes to show how easy it is to have good intentions to 'improve' a piece of habitat for some types of wildlife while almost certainly unwittingly damaging or even destroying it for others! In this particular case, the improvements we were aiming to make were intended to be of benefit to bumblebees! How can one possibly assess whether it is more important to try and protect this area as a hibernation site (potentially for several bumblebee queens) or to clear the rampant Clematis from the gorse and broom, which will encourage more prolific flowering and thus provide much valued sources of nectar for bumblebees, particularly the queens when they emerge from hibernation in the spring? An impossible dilemma. As always, it has to be a compromise decision!