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Posts Tagged ‘homes for wildlife in winter’

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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As I sat at my computer on Tuesday I was greeted by a lovely illustration on the Google page of a group of trees, their leaves turned golden brown and dropped to the ground this was to mark the first day of Autumn (23 September), it is funny that after all the beautiful, warm, sunny and dry weather we have had the weather changed on Tuesday it was definitely Autumnal the temperatures had dropped and it rained needless to say the central heating went on that evening for the first time in many months.

Autumn Leaf Mix

Spectacular Autumn Leaves

What is the Autumn Equinox and who/what decides when it is going to happen?

The Equinox occurs twice a year The Spring Equinox around 20th March and the Autumn Equinox around 22nd September the exact dates and times change every year. The word Equinox comes from the Latin words ‘aequus’ meaning equal and ‘nox’ meaning night, as they occur on the days when the days/nights are approximately equal in length, for us in the Northern hemisphere the sun will continue to rise later and set earlier giving us the shorter days and longer nights of Autumn whilst in the Southern Hemisphere (e.g. Australia) Spring is on its way.

The Autumn and Spring Equinoxes are actually Astrological events, Autumn occurs when the sun passes the equator moving from the northern to the southern hemisphere and the North Pole begins to tilt away from the Sun, Spring occurs when the sun passes the equator moving from the southern to the northern hemisphere and the North Pole begins to lean towards the sun again, anyone that lives in the South Pole will now be seeing the sun for the first time in half a year, whilst those that live in the North Pole will be preparing for six months of darkness.

How does the Autumn Equinox affect people, animals and plants?

Harvest time and the Harvest Festival traditionally falls around the Autumn Equinox when we celebrate, gather and store our crops; the shortening days prompt our wildlife too to store food and to fatten up on Autumn’s abundant fruit, nuts and seeds to see them through the winter months. As the weather turns cooler we put the heating on, wear warmer clothing and extra layers, animals prepare for the cold by growing thick winter coats, many species of birds migrate to warmer climates, the ones that remain grow extra feathers during late Autumn to give them more protection during Winter. Much of our wildlife will be looking for a warm and safe place to shelter or hibernate, now is an ideal time to install some homes for the creatures in your garden, such as Bee, Butterfly and Insect houses, Bird boxes, Hedgehog houses, Bat boxes and Frog and Toad houses.

Hedgehog Igloo House

The cosy Hedgehog Igloo House

Click on the links below for more information on:

Putting up Bird Boxes in your garden or Looking after garden wildlife during the winter.

Trees and plants prepare for winter, leaves change colour and drop off, plant stems die back, then they become dormant, living off the food that they have stored during the summer until the longer and warmer days of Spring return.

So put on an extra layer and see if you can spot any signs of Autumn

Gill

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