Category Archives: Wildlife

Helping Our Feathered Friends This Winter

Bird and food

Birds have a tough old time of it and recent studies have shown that farmland species like the house sparrow are especially vulnerable. Nature is finely balanced and unforgiving and that’s why the food we provide in our gardens is so vital to our feathered friends.

FOOD AND DRINK

Different birds have different types of beaks. For example,a robin has a neat tweezer – like beak which it  uses to delicately nip at insects whereas the big broad bill of the greenfinch is perfect for cracking open large seeds.

Different birds visiting your garden will have different food needs, so check out who is visiting and make sure you are serving up what they enjoy. A little bit of research into this will have you attracting a wide range of birds to your garden.

Small birds simply can’t store  fat due to their size and as they burn off a lot just keeping warm each night in the winter, leave them fatty foods on a daily basis to keep them warm and cosy. Lardy bird-cake or fat balls are perfect for these customers. Whilst birds need fatty foods during the winter to give them instant energy and keep them warm their requirements change when spring comes and they’re feeding their young.

Most garden birds switch to foraging for insects, larvae and worms because the chicks need protein to grow, so live food is the order of the day for them!

Keep feeding birds all the year round if you can and also leave them clean water. If you have a bird bath, keep it clean by disinfecting it regularly and keep it free of ice in winter by adding boiling water.

s nest

NESTING

The trees and hedges in your garden may well be providing birds with places to nest but it’s still worth putting out a wide selection of nesting materials in late winter, such as pet fur, fluff, bits of wool, moss, dry grass, plant stems and even string.

Artificial nest boxes work very well for hole-nesting birds such as tits but many house sparrow and starlings will also use these now as many sites have been lost in the countryside.

Always remember, even a few small actions can help more birds survive and your reward will be an influx of interesting and attractive new visitors to your garden.

 

Attracting wildlife to your garden

More and more clients are asking for wildlife friendly gardens and planting. It’s not difficult to make this happen you just need to do some investigation and planning and away you go…

Bees

INSECTS & INVERTEBRATES

Don’t be too tidy with your garden but leave undisturbed corners where you can. Many small creatures will hide during the daytime here and by allowing insects and other invertebrates to congregate, they act as a snack bar for birds. Try to avoid using the spray gun when you see a few greenfly unless they are causing serious damage – let the birds clear up your insect pests.

BIRDS

At this time of year continue to provide water and a variety of food for visiting birds. Remember to clean the feeders and ground feeding areas regularly to prevent disease build-up.

By using a range of feeders, including those that hang, a bird table and food on the ground, together with a mix of foods, you’ll attract the widest range of species.

Whatever the adult diet, all baby birds are fed on insects, worms, spiders or other invertebrates, at least to begin with, as they need concentrated supplies of protein and fat for rapid growth.

Make a twiggery by pilling prunings in a quiet spot in the garden or allotment, behind the shed or under a hedge. This makes a good habitat for smaller mammals, birds that nest near the ground and insects.

Leave dead herbaceous stems as long as possible before clearing away. They may be carrying seeds for birds or housing insects. They will also shelter the plants emerging shots.

Complete winter pruning by the end of February, as leaving it later may disturb early nesters such as blackbirds. If pruning buddlejas, cut some back hard now, but leave others until March. They will flower later, giving a longer season of nectar for birds and butterflies.

BUTTERFLIES

A good butterfly garden will have a wide range of plants flowering from spring through to autumn and producing nectar. They like warm, sheltered sunny spots in a garden so think

about your garden design before you decide where to plant. Some of my favourite plants to attract butterflies and birds are listed here to give you some inspiration:

Agastache foeniculum
Aster novae – angliae
Astrantia major
Bergenia
Echinacea purpurea
Echinops
Knautia Macedonia
Liatris spicata
Nepeta
Lavender
Phlox paniculata
Scabious spp.
Sedum spectabile
Verbena bonariensis
Skimmia
Pyracantha
Chaenomeles
Myosotis
Ajuga reptans
Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’
Monarda
Ceanothus

MASON BEES

Mason bees are important pollinators in the garden actually better than honey bees, as they work harder and fly in poorer weather. You can encourage them with specially designed bee nests from wildlife catalogues or make your own packed in a tin. Position the nests above the ground in a sunny spot such as a south- facing fence.

AMPHIBIANS & REPTILES

Frogs and toads hit a peak period of mating and spawn producing in March. Although it may be tempting, you shouldn’t move spawn into your garden from other ponds as this could spread disease. If your pond is suitable, amphibians will find it. Lizards and snakes that have been hibernating through the winter start to emerge on warmer spring days, hungry for a tasty beetle or a tender frog.