Monday, 13 August 2012

And then there were three

Y'know, it was a coincidence that Mike Rutherford from Genesis was featured in the closing ceremony of London 2012, the 30th Olympiad. But more on that later...

Earlier in the day, a FoHESC work party had performed their version of a Greek-tragedy-cum-marathon (it's a tenuous Olympic link, and nowhere near a personal best). The morning's work was to move a load of rubble from where it had been deposited to a place of safety, in preparation for the building of a hibernaculum, as another habitat for animals to use.

Now, 'hibernaculum' may be derived from the Latin for 'winter residence', but the oppressive heat of the day, combined with the ferocious tenacity of the local mosquitoes, turned the project into something of a Sisyphean task. And no, I'm not taking it all too hard.

As foreshadowed in the title of this post, the trusty band of volunteers was thin in number, somewhere between 2 and 4, but only if the Japanese didn't protest the score. Many too many? No.

Tony, Alan and myself, armed with the obligatory squeaky-wheeled barrow, set about excavating the larger pieces of rubble from the pile and transferring them to... "Hang on," says Tone, "Why don't we just start building the hibernaculum now? Saves moving this stuff twice." And so a piece of bank (forever to be known as Tony Banks) was hastily selected, high enough above the water table to prevent winter flooding, and in a suitably sunny spot for the delectation of the reptilian and amphibian residents-to-be.

Several layers of bricks were laid out as a base, over an area of 1.5 x 2.5m. Then, the front and sides were built up as a low retaining wall. By this time, the javelin-jawed insects of the reserve were making their presence felt, as we succumbed to bites that were definitely in too deep. But we persevered with barrow load upon barrow load until a rest break was very much in order. I volunteered to make a brew, and though I had used the cold tap earlier, I was quite prepared to turn it on again. Following tea/coffee and biscuits (Abernethy shortbread - I know what I like), we returned to the fray. We now needed a selection of different diameters of pipe, to provide the means of entry to the hibernaculum and places within which to hide. There was a bit of a misunderstanding as we each appeared from the tool store with a different gauge of pipe and type of saw, but eventually we managed to correctly cut up sufficient for our needs. Every scrap was used, as we didn't want to be throwing it all away.

Back on site, the piping was carefully arranged, wedged in place and then covered with more layers of rubble and sand, which we hoped would keep it dark.

This was as far as we could go on the day, as the final step will be to roof the structure with sheets of corrugated iron (to keep out the rain and also provide a basking spot for any herps) and surround the structure with a few logs for added habitat interest. What with global warming, we may even see a scorpion using the hibernaculum, but as non-native invasive species go, that would be an illegal alien.

The original pile of rubble (courtesy of Barney and Betty), didn't look that much smaller than when we started. Methinks that Hibernaculum 2 may be on a much grander scale!

Some bloke stood on Tony Banks
Lizard or newt-sized portals
Rubble pile (or proto-hibernaculum, as we like to call it)
Our thanks must go to all the dragonflies and damselflies on the wing, for helping to combat the swarms of mosquitoes, and to Our Lass for providing a hearty picnic lunch for three tired but happy workers.


  1. Now that we've build a guaranteed eternal sanctuary, man, do you think another hibernaculum would be many too many? But what do I know, me, I'm just a lawnmower, you can tell me by the way I walk.

  2. Tenuous link No 3278: A Sisyphean task would surely involve Running up that Hill, as sung by Kate Bush - who dueted with Peter Gabriel (the one and only front man of Genesis)on "Don't Give Up" (You have FRIENDS)- Kind of poetic eh!

    1. Very poetic and quite tenuous. Bit of a slegdehammer to crack a nut.