Did you do the RSPB birdwatch last weekend? I decided to do it after reading about it on Instagram. To be honest I wasn’t familiar with it but after doing some research I was amazed at how much information has been collated already and how it has helped our understanding of the challenges faced by wildlife. As a result, I thought I would focus on doing three additional things to help encourage wildlife into my garden.
Helping the birds – The best way of encouraging our feathered friends into the garden is to feed them. This may be pretty obvious, but this one is also a little tricky for me as I have quite a few resident squirrels. I have therefore invested in a ‘squirrel proof’ feeder.
I also took a look at where to position the feeder as this can impact whether birds will come into your garden. What I’ve learnt is that these birds can be a little fussy – I’m not sure they would be to successful on Rightmove but here’s what I discovered.
- No motorway noise please – Birds like somewhere relatively quiet so position your feeder somewhere where they will not be disturbed regularly by us!
- Lovely views – Birds like an open surrounding so position your feeder in an open and safe position where they can view whether there are any predators close by while they feed.
- Needs a good, solid roof – Birds like shelter so position where it gets neither too much sun nor too much cold wind.
- No net curtains please – Birds like to be able to see, somewhere with a good lookout point. Something like a small bush about two metres from the feeder is ideal as it gives the birds somewhere safe to perch while they look to see if it is safe to feed, to ‘queue up’.
They are also very specific on what they like to eat so I’ve listed below how what you should fill your feeder with to attract different birds into your garden
- Blackbirds – Have you ever noticed a blackbird following you when you’re weeding your garden? Well, the reason is that they mostly feed on the ground and will eat anything – from fatty nibbles to mealworms.
- Blue tits and great tits use a feeder, eating seeds as well as suet and peanuts
Finches, including chaffinches and greenfinches, use both a feeder and a bird table, and they love sunflower hearts.
February is not only the month of love for us but also for birds too as this is when they have their young. It’s therefore a good time to pop some nest boxes up or give existing ones a clean. If you are about to pop one up, then make sure you put it in a sheltered spot facing north-east.
Don’t forget the Hogs – We do get hedgehogs in our garden and we regularly see them in the Spring and Summer months. Luckily Millie (my dog) doesn’t take much notice of them so I’m going to take a few extra steps to ensure I have a hog- friendly garden.
The first thing I’ve done is to buy a hedgehog hotel, providing a secure space for them to hibernate and nest. I purchased this one off Etsy but alternatively you could leave a grassy corner or a pile of leaves for them to hide, nest or hibernate in. Having a Border Terrier who liked to frequently do ‘a great escape’ meant we had to dog proof our fencing. Great for keeping Millie, our dog in but not so good for encouraging the hogs in. Hedgehogs love to forage so access is crucial. I’ve therefore created small holes in the fences to ensure they can move freely. Please do make sure you ask your neighbour if it’s their fence before doing this though.
Another fabulous reason to encourage hogs into your garden is because they will become one of your best gardening buddies as they love to munch on slugs. We all know what damage slugs can do to new shoots so encouraging the hedgehogs in should help keep down the slug population for you, which means more plants intact!
Plant flowers, trees and shrubs – It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it and there are some fabulous flowers you can plant to encourage wildlife into your garden. Here’s what I’ve found out.
- Pop some crocus and primrose out at this time of the year as they will help feed any bumblebees roused early from hibernation and hopefully send them back into hibernation – don’t peak too soon bees!!
- If you can grow a range of trees, shrubs and climbers, or a mixed hedge. As well as providing food, they provide cover and nesting sites for garden animals, from insects to larger species such as birds.
My guardian of my garden providing plenty of walnuts for the squirrel population and also doing a great job at keeping Millie entertained
- Grow pollen and nectar-rich plants to encourage bees into your garden from Spring through to Autumn. Here are my top three.
- Lavender – One of my favourites and smells so wonderful and has the benefit of providing structure all year round. looks beautiful all year round.
- Verbena Bonariensis – A tall plant that grows up to 2.5 metres, much loved by pollinators. The tall, strong flower heads bear masses of tiny purple blooms from summer to autumn.
- Salvias – One of my favourites and absolutely adored by bees. Both their foliage and flowers have an incredible range of scents, which bees and butterflies find irresistible.
With love and stay safe, Flowers and Lifestyle by Margot –
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