So it’s definitely starting to turn chilly out there….see below for some advice from the Royal Horticultural Society on how to help wildlife in gardens, and even on balconies, through the winter.
Our next scheduled event as recommended in the Orchard Park Habitat Management Plan written for us by the Wildlife Trust BCN is maintenance of the balancing pond over by the Wildlife Area. The area is an example of early colonisation by plants and it is beneficial to insects and reptiles to maintain this stage of succession. This can easily be done by disturbing areas of the ground and removing most of the plants present which will provide open ground for new plants to establish into. Yellow Meadow Ants; Butterflies: Essex Skippers, Comma, Gatekeeper; and Damselflies: Common Blue were seen during the survey there last year. The date and time for this event will be announced shortly. It will be a family event suitable for all ages and abilities, though the ground is rough and not wheelchair accessible, the edge of the small site is accessible. We will be working on just one quarter of the site.
From the RHS @ https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=382
Helping Winter Wildlife
It is surprisingly easy to do something to help garden wildlife in the lean and cold months of winter. Even if you carry out just a few of the following tasks, it can make a difference.
- Help birds in winter by placing fat blocks in wire cages. Balls in plastic nets are not recommended as birds such as woodpeckers can get their tongues caught
- Create your own fat blocks by melting suet into moulds such as coconut shells or logs with holes drilled in
- Alternate different recipes to entice a range of birds; peanut cakes for starlings, insect cakes for tits and berry cakes for finches
- Put out finely chopped bacon rind and grated cheese for small birds such as wrens
- Although fat is important, do also provide a grain mix or nuts to maintain a balanced diet
- Sparrows, finches and nuthatches will enjoy prising the seeds out of sunflower heads
- No-mess mixes are more expensive but the inclusion of de-husked sunflower hearts means there is less waste. Inferior mixes are often padded out with lentils
- Use wire mesh feeders for peanuts and seed feeders for other seed. Specially designed feeders are needed for the tiny niger seed, loved by goldfinches
- Feed placed on a wire mesh held just off the ground will entice ground-feeding birds such as robins and dunnocks
- Thrushes and blackbirds favour fruit. Scatter over-ripe apples, raisins and song-bird mixes on the ground for them
- Consider planting berrying and fruiting trees and shrubs such as Malus,Cotoneaster and Pyracantha to fill gaps
Looking after other creatures
- Check bonfires before they are lit for sheltering and hibernating animals, such as hedgehogs, toads and frogs
- Melt a hole in the ice on ponds to allow the wildlife to drink, and enter and exit the water. Fill a sauce pan with hot water and sit it on the ice until a hole has been melted. Do not hit or crack ice as this can send shockwaves through the water that harms wildlife
- Be careful when you turn compost heaps. As these are often warm, they can be the winter resort of frogs, toads and other animals
- Provide a shallow dish or container of water at ground level. This will benefit other garden wildlife that needs to drink, as well as birds
- Make an insect or bug hotel and put up in a sheltered position. Overwintering ladybirds and lacewings will find this useful
- In late winter, clean out bird boxes so they are ready for new nests in spring
- Leave herbaceous and hollow-stemmed plants unpruned until early spring. These can provide homes for overwintering insects