Hedge cutting threat to birds
by Nadia Sam-Daliri Nesting birds have had their habitat destroyed by council contractors illegally cutting hedges at a flagship park. Concerned resident John Blandy was outraged when he saw a Brent Council employee cutting hawthorn hedge
by Nadia Sam-Daliri
Nesting birds have had their habitat destroyed by council contractors illegally cutting hedges at a flagship park.
Concerned resident John Blandy was outraged when he saw a Brent Council employee cutting hawthorn hedges with visible nests in them in Gladstone Park, Dollis Hill.
It is against the law to cut hedges without checking first for nests, the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 states.
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Mr Blandy said: "It was shocking to see a motorised hedge cutter butchering the top foot or so of the hedge.
"Later I saw how this natural habitat had been made virtually useless for bird life.
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"The hedges provide everything a little bird needs. Everyone knows you shouldn't do that at this time of year."
The RSPB confirmed that late spring is the busiest time for nesting birds.
Bryan Bland, spokesman for the RSPB, said: "We advise people to avoid cutting hedges at this time of year.
"Birds love the dense foliage of new growth to hide their nests and their chicks."
Hawthorn hedges are ideal for birds such as sparrows, finches, tits and blackbirds as their thorny canopy gives good protection from predators.
The hedges have been mechanically chopped on three sides of Gladstone Park.
A Brent Council spokesman said staff have to follow strict guidelines to ensure wildlife is protected.
He added: "We're very unhappy that this has happened. It is extremely unusual - hedges are not supposed to be cut in this way (using a flail) at this time of the year in our parks.
"One over-zealous staff member did something he shouldn't have and has been spoken to. It won't happen again.
"Fortunately it looks like only old nests from last year have been disturbed."
Gladstone Park has won four prestigious Green Flag Awards in a row.
The awards take into account how wildlife is encouraged and protected.