Now that spring has finally arrived and we're able to enjoy a few sunny days, it's been interesting to keep
track of animals beginning to come out of hibernation. Bumblebees and honey bees are starting to look for places to set up their hives and we've already noticed quite a few in our back garden.
Bees are one of the most important creatures in the pollination cycle, and our crops often depend on them to grow properly. We in the cities can do our bit by growing bee - friendly plants in our
gardens or window boxes. There are helpful tips on what to grow on the bumblebee conservation website bumblebeeconservation.org
Of course, it's not just bees that are useful creatures to have around the place. One of the things I'm personally very interested in is bat conservation. Bats are what are known as biodiversity indicators. This means that if local bat populations are doing well, then other local wildlife is usually flourishing too. The Bat Conservation Trust is in the process of mapping bat populations across the country in a project called the Batlas. I'm hoping to help out with one of the local surveys being conducted by the Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust.
Far from being the horrid little blood-suckers of popular imagination, bats are crucial to a good eco-system and help to keep insect populations at a manageable level. They also very often roost
in churches, which is where my interest began. None of the churches in the Sutton Group have resident bats (and I can hear the vicars breathing a sigh of relief!) but actually they are fairly
low-maintenance tenants. Those churches that are home to a roost can find expert advice on how to live amicably with bats from the Bat Conservation Trust website www.bats.org.uk
It can be a fine relationship, with churches providing the ideal home to many species of bat, and the local habitat flourishing as a result. It's just another way of caring for God's world.
Sutton Coldfield Group Curate