It may not feel like it, but Spring is fast approaching! If you are fortunate enough to have an outdoor area, garden or balcony, now is the time to start thinking about how to encourage wildlife into your outdoor space.
Nurturing wildlife and biodiversity is essential to helping protect our natural habitats, so here a just a few ways you can help;
Put up a bird box
Providing a nesting space in your garden is a great way to encourage birds not only to visit, but to stay!
Build a bug hotel
Insects are vital to the ecosystem and having them around creates the foundation of a healthy garden. Bug hotels can be purchased ready made from garden centres, but creating your own bug hotel is a fun project. Pile logs, lengths of bamboo, bricks and bark to create small spaces where beetles, bees and spiders can make their homes in safety.
Plant a tree
Trees and mushrooms are best pals, and together they improve soil density and quality, as well as providing a habitat for a range of mammals, birds, and insects, and a resting place for migrating animals.
Sow wildflower seeds
Native wildflowers encourage a number of pollinating insects, which in turn encourages insect eating birds and mammals to your garden. These birds and mammals will eat the insects that you don’t want around as well!
Don’t mow your lawn/mow only the centre
Allowing some or all of the grass in your garden to grow longer creates safe spaces for small mammals and insects to roam. Allowing the grass to grow long enough will help it self seed and keeps your lawn from becoming patchy in hot weather.
Grow a hedgerow instead of using fences
Not such an easy task as a decent hedgerow can take a few years to come to maturity, but planting native shrubs creates a wildlife friendly garden barrier. Flowering shrubs will encourage pollinators, provide interest, and encourage birds and mammals with their berries. Try hawthorn, yew, box, beech, alder, buckthorn or holly.
Hang a bird feeder
There are different mixes for different types of birds, depending on who you notice already visiting, or who you would like to encourage! Small seeds, such as millet, attract mostly house sparrows, dunnocks, finches, reed buntings and collared doves, while flaked maize is taken readily by blackbirds. Tits and greenfinches favour peanuts and sunflower seeds. Mixes that contain chunks or whole nuts are suitable for winter feeding only. Pinhead oatmeal is excellent for many birds.
Create a pond
Ponds not only provide a source of drinking water for birds and mammals but they also create a habitat for insects, amphibians and plants. Position your pond in a sunny spot to encourage frogs and dragonflies.
If you have a balcony, bug hotels and bird boxes can be placed on a wall, bird feeders can be placed on the outside edge. You can also grow pollinator friendly plants in containers.
Inviting wildlife into your garden is fun however you choose to do it, and if you would like to help scientists gain a better understanding of the species we have visiting our gardens, you can sign up to take part in events like The Big Garden Birdwatch or Big Butterfly Count