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Posts Tagged ‘attact wildlife to your garden’

I hope that you all had a fun Halloween, my favourite part is trimming up the front of the house with scary pumpkins, cobwebs, big spiders and bats – it’s funny we only tend to think about Bats at Halloween yet for most of the year they live all around us, in the UK we have 18 species of Bats, many of which we rarely see, they will probably have been flying above you whilst you were trick or treating, searching for flying insects (midges, beetles and moths) brought out by the warm weather, this year was the warmest Halloween on record reaching an incredible 23.6C (74.5F) in London during the afternoon.

Bats are not scary at all in fact they are beautiful, unique mammals that live a secretive life. Bats emerge at dusk to feed whilst they fly, during October/November they are making the most of any available insects and building up their fat reserves which is crucial to their survival during hibernation in the winter months. There is a saying ‘as blind as a Bat’ in fact Bats are not blind they have good eyesight, as good as ours, when they are hunting for insects at night they use their hearing to locate their prey, as they fly they make calls or ‘clicks’ and then listen to the returning echos, this is called Echolocation, it helps them to build up a map of their surroundings , including objects which they do not want to fly into and also to locate flying insects (their prey). The calls that the Bats make are usually pitched at a high frequency that we cannot hear, you can hear these calls if you have a Bat Detector, not only will it pick up the calls of Bats that are near but you can determine which species of Bat it is as each Bat has its own unique call.

Bats begin to hibernate in November, hibernation is a state of inactivity when the metabolic rate slows, body temperature is lowered and breathing is slower, during this time they live off their fat reserves they will begin to emerge in March looking for insects. Bats roost on their own or in small groups often in cool quiet places such as attics, disused buildings, tunnels, bridges, caves, or old trees but due to modern housing and redevelopment their roosting sites are diminishing, in the UK, bat populations have declined considerably over the last century.

We can all give our Bats a helping hand by putting up Bat Boxes, now is a crucial time for them, 2 or 3 placed in different directions will provide a range of roosting temperatures at different times, site as high up as possible, in a semi sunny position and out of prevailing winds and rain (preferably facing south, south-east and south-west). Boxes can be put on buildings ideally up by the eaves or on trees, 2 or 3 can be arranged around the trunks of larger trees, clear away any surrounding branches especially underneath so that the Bats have clear access and can land easily before climbing up into the box, different species will occupy different types of boxes.

The Double Chamber Bat Box  has two chambers with ledges for Bats to cling to.

 Wooden Bat Box

The Conservation Bat Box has vertical chambers with angled cut-away front showing ladder style grooves which allows the bat to climb into one of the twin chambers.

 Conservation bat box

All UK bats and their roosts are protected by law, which means it is illegal to harm or disturb them so don’t be tempted to open your bat box to see who is inside instead you will have to watch closely at dusk to see if anyone comes out, another sign that they are occupied is ‘mouse sized’ droppings that contain insects underneath the box, it may take quite a while for Bats to use your box be patient or you may be lucky and they move in within weeks.

So go ‘batty’ this month and put up a Bat box

Love your environment

Gill

 

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Last week we had an enquiry regarding our Croma Preservative, there is nothing unusual about that, but this was from The Barn Owl Centre of Gloucestershire who wanted a preservative to use on their owl nest boxes and as it is non toxic, kind to wildlife (and plants) it is perfect.

The Barn Owl Centre of Gloucestershire is a registered charity which has been established since 1997 and who are working to support the environment, wildlife and the community through Education, Conservation and Bird Welfare not only are they passionate about Barn Owls but all species of Owls and Birds of Prey.

Education plays a huge part in their work and their resident birds play an important part in group visits to/from Children, Schools, Farmers/Landowners etc. making it a fun, interactive and enjoyable experience. Wild bird casualties can be brought to them for treatment and rehabilitation with the sole aim of releasing the birds back to the wild once they are fit and well.

Young Barn Owl

Did you know?

Barn Owls ….

… hunt at night, and although they have very good eyesight  they rely on their exceptional sense of hearing to locate their prey.

… are easily recognised by their heart-shaped face, whose outer feathers collect, trap and focus sound just like human ears.

… fly almost silently which enables them to hear the smallest noises made by their prey of mainly field voles, wood mice and common shrews, they eat on average 4 a night.

… eat their prey whole, the indigestible parts are then coughed up in the form of an owl pellet.

… do not hoot (that’s Tawny Owls) they screech.

We have barn owls locally but I have yet to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural surroundings. If you are passionate about Owls and wildlife why not have a look at their website to see how you can help, if you live locally why not become a volunteer.

Many of our native birds are in decline and really do need our help, they need Nest Boxes, which provide them with a safe place to roost and rear their young, Bird Feeders filled with high energy bird food throughout the year and a Bird Bath with clean water to drink and to bathe in to keep their feathers in tip top condition. Wildlife products make excellent gifts why not treat your dad or granddad this Father’s Day (16th June) and help the wildlife in your garden.

Gill

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We received an enquiry recently from Rona in Peterborough.  She asked:

I have been asked to take on the Reception class garden.  Part of it is designated as the wildlife area.  There is a buddlea bush but otherwise it is just grass.  What can we do to make it a bit more wild and diverse?

My advice would be applicable for anyone wanting to increase the wildlife interest in their garden…so hope you find it useful.

1                    Provide Plants for Shelter & Food

If you are just setting up your garden, or if you have a garden that is very open with perhaps just a lawn and fence, consider introducing some wildlife friendly plants.

Sorbus, Berberis and Pyracantha all have berries which are a good source of food for birds.

In Spring sow raised beds with Flower Meadow Seeds .  These will give beautiful colour in the summer months and will also provide important nectar for butterflies.  During April consider sowing flowers such as Honesty.  This plant will appear year after year and is great early nectar for butterflies.

The native climber Old Mans Beard (clematis vitalba) can be planted at the base of a hedge or fence, and is good for bees, butterflies and moths.

For container gardening consider Marguerite plants in the summer months as they look so pretty but also attract butterflies and moths.

Lavender bushes provide nectar for bees and butterflies and seeds for birds when the flowers die back.

Other container plants to consider for their wildlife benefits include Sedum Spectabile (Ice Plant), Skimmia Japonica and Mexican Orange Blossom.

If you have the space, every garden benefits from having a few trees or large bushes.  Consider Field Maple which will attract bees, moth caterpillars and hoverflies, and Laurel for shelter for birds, bees and hoverflies.

2                    Provide Food for Birds

To encourage birds to your garden, provide a supply of food, particularly during the winter months.  Seeds, peanuts, bread crumbs, chunks of cheese and windfall apples are all good sources of food.  The bird bistro feeders are an excellent source of seeds for blue tits and finches and attach easily to a fence.

When providing food, think about attracting a variety of bird species.  Putting food on the floor will encourage ground feeders such as blackbirds, thrushes, dunnocks and wrens.  Hanging feeders of nuts and seeds will encourage finches and tits.  The apple bird feeder is handy for those windfall or half eaten apples that the children have left, and fruit is an excellent bird food.

Food on a bird table will be popular with robins, sparrows, doves and pigeons.

Also don’t forget that birds also need a clean supply of water all year round and a bird bath is ideal.

For bird lovers the Gift Bird Feeder is a great present.  Included are sunflower seeds, a fabulous flower bed feeder and wool spiral.

The perfect gift for Bird Lovers

The perfect gift for Bird Lovers

Remember not to overfeed the birds though, as food left to go rotten will attract vermin, and harbour disease.  So clean away excess food regularly with a Bird Table Cleaner and replace water each day.

 

3                    Provide Nesting Pouches

Nesting pouches are useful for birds all year round.  Not only will birds use them for breeding in the spring and summer months, these are also excellent places for providing winter shelter.  At the end of the summer clean out bird boxes and nesting pouches ready for winter use. 

And to encourage bats to roost in your garden these Wooden Bat Boxes are designed to meet their needs perfectly.

Wooden Bat Box Specially Designed to Encourage Bats to Roost

Wooden Bat Box Specially Designed to Encourage Bats to Roost

4                    Provide Habitat for Mammals and Insects

Wildlife will thrive better in gardens where there are areas left to go a little wild.  Leaf, twig and log piles are great refuges for insects and mammals, and also provide habitats for hibernation.  So it’s a good idea to put piles in corners and quiet parts of the garden.

Crevices in rotting wood are great places for ladybirds and creepy crawlies to hide, and the Ladybird and Insect Tower is specially designed for this.  Rotten tree stumps are also a favourite with woodpeckers, who delve into the wood with their beaks to find tasty grubs.

The hogitat is specially designed as a natural home and safe retreat for hedgehogs. 

Hogitat - A perfect house for hedgehogs

Hogitat - A perfect house for hedgehogs

The Solitary Bee Hive and Butterfly Feeding Station are perfect for increasing the diversity of insects visiting the garden, and Insect Study Centre and Solar Insect Theatre make studying insects at close quarters easy and fascinating in equal measure!

 

5                    Sit Back & Enjoy!

After all the hard work of setting up your wildlife garden, it is so enjoyable to sit back and watch as things begin to happen.  You will be amazed at how quickly birds, mammals and insects begin to investigate the new surroundings and set up home, and it is fascinating for both adults and children alike to watch as this magical process unfolds.

This fabulous selection of Wildlife Guides makes identifying your garden wildlife so much easier.  And if you want to observe and record all the action at close quarters this Wildlife Surveillance Camera will provide great footage for classroom sessions.

           picture 7

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