November has arrived and the weather for once seems to be giving what we can expect – wind and rain! The temperature has dropped, the clocks have gone back and some people have gone into hiding waiting for spring.

Funny to think then that there are creatures who are arriving in Lancashire as a place to over winter as the weather here is more hospitable than where they have come from!

What strange beings are these and where do they possibly come from to relish a British autumn and winter?

Whereas some birds head south to Africa to avoid a British winter, other birds from Scandinavia, Greenland, Iceland and even Eastern Europe are arriving here in their thousands to escape a harsher climate than any they are likely to experience here in the north west and enjoy some of the food that our natural environment offers them.

Examples of these birds are the Pink Footed Geese (with a name like that you will know one when you see one!) and the Fieldfares and Redwings - members of the Thrush family.

Whilst the temperature here is milder than where they spend the summer and produce young, they are also aware that food is available. For many of these visitors it comes in the form of our wonderful hedgerows.

Our hedgerows, that along with dry stone walls are used to separate fields and often run alongside roads, are incredibly importance environments for wildlife and us. Hedges, some of which have existed for hundreds and even thousands of years, are made up of many different tree, shrubs and climbing species.

Whilst the most common one, certainly enjoyed for its berries by these birds, is the Hawthorn, you will also see Willow, Hazel, Holly, Sycamore, Blackthorn, Maple, Ash and Oak as well as the presence of Brambles, Honeysuckle, Wild Roses and Wild Clematis.

During spring and summer the ground underneath these hedges can be a carpet of wild flowers awash with colour and insects.

As ever in nature this diversity is key and means that the hedges play a role of home, shelter and food for a huge range of creatures from insects to small mammals, birds, bats, bees and humans who have foraged hedgerows for food and medicinal plants for centuries. All this on top of providing shelter for farm animals, reducing flooding & soil erosion and capturing carbon.

Sadly since 1947 over half of our hedgerows have been lost which has had a devastating impact on wildlife.

Whist a healthy hedge needs to be cut and ‘layed’, in order for the birds to be able to feed from the hedges this management needs to be done in late winter - not now - otherwise their food (and next year’s) may be taken away. This is one of the vital roles that farmers have in managing our countryside for the benefit of wildlife.

As ‘farmers’ of our own little patches of the earth many of us like a tidy garden to look out onto over winter but to cut everything and tidy it all up now can be depriving wildlife of food and shelter.

For once putting a job off is the right thing to do. Instead of getting out the shears, loppers or secateurs put the kettle on and watch what comes to visit or even better put on some dirty old boots and have a walk into our fantastic surrounding countryside and take a look at these wonderful hedgerows.

You might even see an Icelandic visitor while you are there. Enjoy.

Click here for more tips on how to help wildlife from home or here for details of nature reserves to discover in Lancashire.