23 June 2017

A Wildlife Corridor - Footpath 99

"Can you look at Footpath 99? it's overgrown" the Residents Association's Footpath Officer (that's me) was asked. So, off I went to take a look. Footpath 99 turned out to be a small, rather unloved, right of way running between suburban back gardens....
Footpath 99 Oak tree

Footpath 99
There was graffiti on shed walls and trees, litter, dumped garden waste and a shopping trolley blocking it half way down.

Honey bee on Green Alkanet
Honey bee on Green Alkanet
Yes, Footpath 99 was certainly overgrown and unloved but it was buzzing with insect life, bumblebees and honeybees in particular. The stinging nettles were a bit intimidating in such a narrow space and I could see why this would, quite understandably, put off many pedestrians! Nevertheless it must be remembered that the humble stinging nettle supports over 40 species of insect, including moths and butterflies.

I found a wide variety of native flowers:
Greater Celandine
Greater Celandine
Green Alkanet, Herb Robert, Bindweed, Shining Geranium, Wood Avens, Greater Celandine, Dandelion, Wood Spurge, Foxglove, Cat's Ear, White Bryony, Forget-me-not, Bluebell, Nipplewort, Lesser Stitchwort, Small Flowered Willowherb, Buttercup, Cleavers, Spear Thistle. Plus the garden escapes: Canterbury Bells, Hypericum and overhanging Roses.

Once upon a time, Footpath 99 was a route along a field boundary towards a well, it can be seen on old maps dating back to the 1800s. It is a green corridor linking gardens and aiding biodiversity in the present
and a corridor in time linking back to our rural past through the flora of long gone fields and hedgerows.
White Bryony
White Bryony

A couple were tidying up an adjoining area of garages and when I stopped to talk I was delighted to hear that Hedgehogs are regular users of Footpath 99. Slow worms have been seen and a little while back a Grass Snake was spotted. It was agreed that Footpath 99 needed some attention but, on the plus side, nettles discouraged unwelcome
visitors and the drug users. It seems there can be some advantages to an urban footpath being a bit overgrown!

Shining Geranium
As for the trolley, the supermarket has promised to take it away... it seems to be taking a while.

Did you know?

The stinging nettle is one of the most important native plants for wildlife in the UK. Learn more....
Nettles and wildlife: http://www.nettles.org.uk/nettles/wildlife.asp

Our Hedgehogs are declining, we’ve lost a third of all our hedgehogs in ten years. You can help...
Hedgehog Street: https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/