Wildlife you can help in your garden

 

 

However large or small your garden, there's plenty you can do to help all sorts of wildlife, from birds to butterflies, and worms to frogs.  Here are a few ideas.  Quite a few from each category will help a range of wildlife so they can all contribute to providing conditions so that wildlife can survive and thrive...

Birds

  • Feed the birds – even if you don’t have a garden you can get these window feeders now
  • Give them water from a bird bath
  • Put up a nesting box, too – you can get different ones for different species.
  • Find out if your house can help!  House sparrows, starlings, house martins and swifts depend on buildings for nest sites. Visit RSPB for advice
  • Take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch in January each year – you just need to give an hour in which you spot birds in your garden and then after that report back to the RSPB.  This is the largest birdwatch worldwide and it helps the RSPB identify which species are doing well and which aren’t and need help.


Butterflies

Size is no criteria when it comes to attracting butterflies.  Butterflies will come if they can feed from nectar plants – you could have up to 20 species visit, if you plan your garden carefully.  If you’ve got a small garden you could plant a pot for pollinators such as butterflies and moths and then enjoy their visits and a splash of floral colour. Visit Butterfly Conservation for more information.

So

  • Plant flowers that will attract butterflies and they will come - there’s a list of butterfly attracting flowers here and the list tells you what flowers when
  • Plant foodplants - Caterpillars need foodplants these and butterflies will be attracted to your garden to lay their eggs.  Plus the more caterpillars you have the more birds you’ll attract to feed from them.
  • Join in  Plant a Pot for Pollinators and go potty in your garden, however big or small it is.  There’s always room for a pot.  I plant wild flowers in pots and they seem happy.
  • Take part in the Big Butterfly Count every year from mid July to early August to help Butterfly Conservation find out how butterflies are doing
  • Use the iRecordButterflies free app to help you identify butterflies you see and then add your sightings to millions of other records for Butterfly Conservation.  You can also find lots of info here

Garden Wildlife Direct has everything you need for birds and wildlife
Garden Wildlife Direct has everything you need for birds and wildlife 

Bees

The RHS says there are over 250 species of bee in Britain and these can generally be divided into 3 groups:

  • The bumblebee
  • The honey bee
  • The solitary bee

How to help:

  • Provide nector and pollen rich flowers during the year and encourage bees to nest – the more you can do in your garden the better – you’ll find a list at the RHS Perfect for Pollinators lists
  • Avoid using pesticides wherever possible
  • Provide nest sites for bees – you can make your own or buy nest for solitary bees.
  • Provide water for pollinators such as a shallow dish filled with stones 
  • Become a beekeeper – find out more from the British Beekeepers Association

Hedgehogs

Get involved with Hedgehog Street.   It’s great fun and you’ll be helping hedgehogs along the way.  It’s jointly run by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES for short).  

  • Create a wildlife corridor for hedgehogs so they can move from one garden to another – put a 13cm hole in your fence and encourage neighbours to do the same
  • Leave one corner of your garden untidy so they can hide in it.
  • Give them a compost heap – be careful when you’re picking up compost or turning it over
  • Put cat and dog food out for them – chichen and turkey is best for them.  And give them a feeding station and somewhere to drink water from

Visit the Garden Wildlife Project 



Frogs and toads

Froglife has plenty of information on how you can help frogs and toads in your garden

  • Just Add Water and give them a pond for a start.  It doesn’t need to enormous – it can be very small but it can make all the difference.
  • And they’d like a sunny south facing compost heap – you may find slow-worms buried here, feeding on the slugs and ants, and grass snakes may use compost heaps to lay their eggs in
  • Piles of logs will also go down well – they’ll provide basking spots for lizards.  Let the vegetation grow around it and you’ll have more insects
  • Flat objects on the ground in a sunny spot give a warm place to hang out and provide cover from predators
  • Give them a frog or toad house to shelter in!

Go wild for worms!

Many animals rely on them for food and they keep animals going – robins, foxes, moles, badgers, frogs, hedgehogs, the frog, the common toad, the water shrew, the wood mouse… They are essential for our soils and for wildlife so please let's alll do what we can to encourage their numbers...they mix soil layers and enable plants to grow.

Report your sightings!

Quite a few wildlife charities would be very grateful to you for reports of the wildlife you’ve seen in your gardens.   They have been listed above and there are lots of projects and surveys you can get involved in simply by looking out for wildlife and reporting your sightings...

This helps becuase it enables wildlife charities to build up a picture of what is happening where to species, and which species are doing well and which are in trouble.  Where species are not doing well, this means wildlife conservation charities can set up projects and campaigns to redress the balance.... so they all matter and every sighting helps and counts.