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Posts Tagged ‘school wildlife’

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We may take trees for granted as they have just always been there, but the truth is we couldn’t live without them, trees:

Produce oxygen and clean the air

Trees absorb carbon dioxide, removing and storing the carbon whilst releasing the oxygen back into the air, in one year an acre of trees will absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide produced when you drive a car 26,000 miles; an acre of trees will also produce enough oxygen for 18 people. Trees also absorb and filter odour and pollutant gas particles from the air (nitrogen oxide, ammonia) by trapping them on their leaves and bark.

Produce and conserve water and prevent flooding and erosion

There would be no rain without trees, trees absorb water from the soil and release it through evapotranspiration back into the air, trees can be used to prevent flooding as they hold vast amounts of water which would otherwise run down hills and surge into rivers and towns, they reduce soil erosion as they break the force of the wind and rain on the earth and their roots hold the soil together.

Provide food and habit

Trees produce food (fruit, nuts) not just for ourselves but for birds and wildlife too, as well as offering an invaluable habitat to shelter, breed and nest, even the smallest tree can make a big difference.

Make us feel better

Studies have shown that hospital patients with views of trees from their windows get better faster and with less complications, children with ADHD have less symptoms when they are exposed to trees and nature aiding concentration and reducing mental fatigue and a walk in the woods works wonders improving our physical and mental health.

Bring communities together

Tree planting brings communities of all ages, cultures, genders and abilities together creating an enhanced environment in which to live and improving our quality of life.

 

If you are interested in planting trees to help wildlife or to enhance your local area The Woodland Trust are currently offering Schools and Community Groups the chance to apply for free trees for delivery in November 2016.

Communities and Schools can apply for free tree packs twice a year which will be sent out in March and November when the trees are dormant and ready to plant.

There is always a high demand for their tree packs, if you are interested in planting this Autumn apply early to avoid disappointment.

The closing date for Autumn applications is 7th September or upon full subscription.

If you are a School I would strongly advise that you apply asap before the end of this term, it would make a great Autumn project which all the children could get involved in.

For more information and how to apply click here.

Gill

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Wildlife World Urban Bird Feeder

This year the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch takes place on the weekend of 30th/31st January, it began in 1979 and is now one of the world’s largest wildlife surveys, last year 585,000 people took part and counted 8,546,845 birds. Each year the results are collated and are used to compare trends, monitor species, understand how birds are doing and take steps to put things right.

Here are last year’s (2015) top 10 birds

  1. House Sparrow
  2. Starling
  3. Blackbird
  4. Blue Tit
  5. Woodpigeon
  6. Chaffinch
  7. Robin
  8. Great Tit
  9. Gold Finch
  10. Collared Dove

In 2014 the House Sparrow also came top, and the same bird species were in the top 10 although some in a different position. Each year there are mixed results here are some winners and losers from 2015’s survey.

The Winners

  1. The Blackbird was the most widely spotted bird in your gardens, they were spotted in more than 90 per cent of your gardens in 2015.
  2. Robins have climbed three places to the number seven spot, in 2014 they were number 10, but just over 85 per cent of you saw them in 2015.
  3. Twice as many people saw Wrens in their garden in 2015 than in 2014, they were spotted by 35 per cent of you, the highest number since 2006.

The Losers

  1. Song Thrush sightings have declined again, an all-time low, they are currently in 22nd place, and like many of our favourite garden birds they remain on the red list.
  2. Greenfinches dropped dramatically to 25th place, the drop is likely due to Trichomonosis disease. You can help to fight this disease by giving your feeders, bird tables and bird baths a regular clean.
  3. Starling numbers have plummeted by 80% since the first RSPB Birdwatch in 1979, another red-listed species, the RSPB is urgently researching the reasons for their decline.

There are many birds on the red list which are familiar to us; it is hard to believe that they are in decline and in trouble here are some of them:

  • Curlew
  • Black Grouse
  • Woodcock
  • Starling
  • Puffin
  • Hen Harrier
  • Herring Gull
  • Turtle Dove
  • Willow Tit
  • Marsh Tit
  • Skylark
  • Fieldfare
  • Song Thrush
  • Cuckoo
  • House Sparrow
  • Redwing
  • Mistle Thrush
  • Nightingale
  • Tree Sparrow
  • Greenfinch

There is one bird mentioned above that you might think is listed by mistake, its the House Sparrow although it was top of the RSPB Birdwatch list for the last two years its numbers are still in decline, between 1977 and 2008 the House Sparrow population dramatically dropped by 71%.

All the birds that you spot this year are very important, and just as important are the birds that you don’t spot.

Take part in this year’s RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch – it’s lots of fun, educational and a great family activity. Schools can get involved too and take part in the RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch any day/time this term until 12th February for more details and to sign up visit the RSPB’s website.

If you want more information on Feeding Garden Birds click here to have a look at our guide.

Have a fabulous Bird Watching Weekend.

Gill

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A 'Christmas' Robin

As I sit writing this blog I can see a Robin in the garden perched by the bird feeders, we do not get many Robins in the garden, they tend to appear when the weather turns colder and there is less natural food available, on the allotment though they are about throughout the year often watching and waiting for insects and grubs that have been disturbed whilst digging and sitting on the handle of my spade when my back is turned.

The Robin has long been associated with the festive season, this could be because we see them more in Winter but it may also be because the Robin, also known as the ‘Robin Redbreast’, gave its name to the first postmen who wore red jackets and became known as ‘Robins’, some suggest this is the reason why Robins appear on Christmas cards.

Robins sing all year round, they are one of the few birds that can be heard singing during winter, both the males and females maintain territories for feeding during this period, these may be later become their breeding territories.  Robins can be quite tame during the colder months and with a lot of patience they may eat out of your hand, but despite their cute appearance they are quite aggressive with intruders who enter their territory. Around Christmas-time they begin looking for a mate, by mid-January they will have paired up and the females then stop singing. Male and female birds look identical, young Robins are spotted with golden brown they do not have a red breast until they are 2/3 months old, Robins eat insects, worms, seeds and fruits and are very partial to mealworms.

Open Fronted Teapot Bird Nester and Nest Box

Robins are well known for nesting in unusually places including sheds, greenhouses, plant pots, hanging baskets, under car bonnets and in farm machinery, to encourage Robins to breed in your garden put up an Open Fronted Robin Nest Box or a Teapot Bird Nester, they can be sensitive to disturbance whilst nest building and laying so it is best to stay away at this time, they will lay a clutch of 4-6 eggs, which once incubated by the female will hatch in 13 days, both parents feed and care for the chicks that then fledge at 14 days old even though they are still unable to fly for another couple of days, the parents will look after the chicks for another 3 weeks, Robins normally have two broods a year.

This year for the first time the people of Britain were asked to vote for Britain’s National Bird, it may come as no surprise that the winning bird was the Robin; in total more than 224,000 people cast their votes, the Robin came out top with 75,623 votes, followed in second place by the Barn Owl with 26,191 votes and the Blackbird in third place with 25,369 votes.

This Christmas why not give someone a gift of a Nest Box for the Robins in their garden?

Gill

P.S. Don’t miss out on our two free competitions on the Gardening With Children website in the School Zone and the Family Zone, for a chance to win some bird feeders for your garden, the closing date for both competitions is Thursday 31st December 2015.

 

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Snail

On the whole this year it has been dry but the recent wet weather combined with mild temperatures has brought out all the slugs and snails (big and small, young and old) in the garden and on the allotment and which no doubt will take advantage of any remaining flowers and crops.

When we moved into our house twenty years ago the garden was a wilderness, you could not really call it a garden and the populations of slugs and snails that it contained was unbelievable, I couldn’t kill them as I believe that every creature has a place and a purpose on this earth, but as a keen gardener I knew that they just had to go somewhere else and that was in the surrounding fields, after dark when they emerged I collected them in a carrier bag and moved them to their new home the following day. I am sure that a lot of people must have thought I was mad but it did the trick and since we put a pond in the back garden and the frogs moved in they are now at a manageable level.

If slugs and snails are a problem in your garden and you want to stop them from eating your plants here are some environmentally friendly ideas and products that can help:

The Urban Bird Feeder

Birds   Attract birds into your garden with bird feederswater dishes and nest boxes, they will in return eat many garden pests including slugs, snails, caterpillars, aphids, ants etc.

HEDGEHOG

Hedgehogs    Encourage Hedgehogs to visit and make their home in your garden with a Hedgehog House placed in a quiet corner along with some Hedgehog food, ensure that they can come in and out of your garden by making some small openings in your fence.

Frogs & spawn

Build a pond    A pond is a magnet for all types of wildlife especially frogs and toads which eat slugs and snails.

Slug Gone   Place a layer of Slug Gone Organic Wool Pellets around your plants, made from the dagging fleece of the sheep, the wool fibres as well as the sand, grit and potassium salts that it contains irritate the foot of the slug/snail forcing them to feed elsewhere.

Slug & Snail Trap - Pack of 2

Slug and Snail traps   Bury the pots near to vulnerable plants and fill with beer or sugar water, the slugs and snails will come for a drink and fall in the pot.

Nemaslug Slug Killer

Nemaslug Slug Killer   A natural control containing nematodes that are found naturally in the soil, simply mix with water and apply every 6 weeks around your plants or on areas that are affected.

Copper Slug & Snail Tape

Copper Slug and Snail Tape    Ideal if you garden in containers, placed around the tops of pots, planters and raised beds the copper tape gives off a tiny electrical charge which deters them from crossing the tape.

…. or as a last resort you could always move them in a carrier bag!!

I quite like snails they are quirky looking, do you remember Brian the Snail on Magic Roundabout?

Love your environment

Gill

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Oak Tree

Trees play an important part in our lives by enhancing our environment and creating wonderful wooded places to spend quality time with our families.

Trees are havens for wildlife too, providing homes and food for caterpillars (leaves), insects (flowers, leaves), beetles and larvae (trunk, rotting wood) these in turn are food for animals and birds especially newly fledged youngsters or hungry chicks still in the nest, in Autumn and Winter their fruits/berries and seeds provide a welcome meal for birds and animals, trees really are a very important part of the wild food chain.

Family pic 5

If you are interested in planting trees to help wildlife, for the environment or to enhance your local area The Woodland Trust are currently offering Schools and Community Groups the chance to apply for free trees for delivery in November 2015.

The tree packs are available in three sizes:

  • Small – containing 30 saplings.
  • Medium – containing 105 saplings.
  • Large – containing 420 sapling.

The packs come in different mixes of tree species so you can choose the best one for your project.

  • Small – Short Hedge, Small Copse
  • Medium – Wild Harvest, Wildlife, Year Round Colour, Working Wood, Wetland, Wild Wood
  • Large – Wild Harvest, Wildlife, Year Round Colour, Working Wood, Wetland, Wild Wood

Communities and Schools can apply for free tree packs twice a year which will be sent out in March and November when the trees are dormant and ready to plant.

There is always a high demand for their tree packs, currently all medium (105 sapling) packs for schools this Autumn have been claimed, limited quantities of the small (30 sapling) and large (420 sapling) packs remain, if you are interested in planting this Autumn apply early to avoid disappointment.

The closing date for Autumn applications is 3rd September or upon full subscription.

If you are a School I would strongly advise that you apply asap before the end of this term, it would make a great Autumn project which all the children could get involved in.

For more information and how to apply click here.

Gill

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This week it has been glorious with long, dry days of warm sunshine, perfect weather for gardening and getting outdoors and also for Butterflies too, on my allotment I saw quite a few including Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks, Small Whites and my first Orange Tip, they are all stunning to look at, when they eventually settle to feed on the spring flowers.

In Britain there are 59 species of butterfly that breed here plus up to 30 other species that come here as occasional or regular migrants from elsewhere in Europe, but all is not well for these beautiful fragile creatures, according to a report published in 2011 by Butterfly Conservation three-quarters of UK butterflies showed a 10-year decrease in either their distribution or population levels with numbers of ‘garden’ butterflies dropping by 24%.

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Loss of habitat including food plants for caterpillars and butterflies can have a devastating effect, in Spring many species emerge from hibernation and are hungry for nectar and pollen, by growing Spring flowering plants in the garden we can really give them a boost early on in the year, favourite Butterfly plants include Aubretia, Arabis, Forget-me-nots, Polyanthus, Primroses, Sweet Violet, Wallflowers and of course Spring bulbs. Wildflower seeds can be sown now to provide food in the Summer/Autumn they will also benefit Bees and other pollinating insects, there are many different ‘mixes’ available, they need very little looking after but look stunning.

 Short Mix

If you are really keen to do more to help Butterflies and Moths why not consider joining Butterfly Conservation, if you join before 31st May 2015 you can get your first year’s membership for half price, members receive a Gardening for Butterflies and Moths Booklet, colourful identification charts, Butterfly magazines, e-newsletters and more, have a look at their website for full details.

If you have seen an early sighting of a Butterfly you can register it on the Butterfly Conservation website, many of the early Butterflies have already been spotted but there are many more species yet to find, have a look at the list for the species that still haven’t been seen yet this year and keep your eyes peeled.

Which reminds me I must report my Orange Tip Butterfly sighting on the BIG Spring Watch website, they are also asking you to register your first sightings of a Swallow (which are returning from Africa), an Oak Leaf and a Seven Spot Ladybird all the sightings will be studied and used to help save and conserve our wildlife and provide a picture of how it’s doing.

So get out this weekend and get spotting!

Gill

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Have a look at our two Garden Bird Competitions:

In the School Zone find 10 hidden garden birds in our Garden Birds Wordsearch and you could win a

Birch Log Nest Box

Birch Log Hole Nest Box

a Wooden Peanut Butter Bird Feeder,

Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder

a Discovery Seed Feeder

The Discovery Seed Feeder

and a Fat Ball Feeder

Metal Fat Ball Feeder

 

In the Kids/Family Zone correctly identify the birds shown in the pictures

  1.  Goldfinch         B.  Robin         C.  Great Tit         D.  Blue Tit
  2.  House Sparrow         F.  Blackbird

1.

Metal Fat Ball Feeder

2.

Square Ground Bird Table

3.

Guardian Seed Feeder

4.

Hanging Star Fatball Feeder

5.

 Discovery Seed Feeder

6.

 Teapot Nester

and you could win a

Build Your Own Nest Box Kit

Build Your Own Nest Box

and a Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder

Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder

For full details and an Entry Form visit The School Zone and The Family Zone

Hurry as the closing date for both competitions is Saturday 14th March, 2015.

Good Luck

Gill

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In life there are few certainties and many uncertainties; the British weather has got to be one of the biggest uncertainties, in Britain we have a very varied and changeable climate not just north to south but regional as well which makes it very hard for our weathermen to forecast, even with new technology. The weather affects everything not just your holiday or BBQ, it also has a huge impact on plants, birds, wildlife and even the seasons too, although Spring comes at the same time each year, it can in fact be early brought on by mild temperatures or late if we have prolonged cold spell with freezing temperatures.

Early Small Tortoiseshell

Unseasonal mild weather can bring creatures out of hibernation early, yesterday there was a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly fluttering against the upstairs windows if we had let it out it wouldn’t have survived, it is too cold and there are hardly any flowers about so it would have had no food, as well as being an easy meal for a hungry bird. Thomas managed to catch it in his butterfly net and place it safely in his pop up Butterfly House which he then put in a dark cupboard, it has now gone back to sleep, we shall keep checking on it.

10 Fat Ball Feeding Ring

As I write this there are twelve starlings picking food off the lawn and pushing their beaks into the soft ground trying to find tasty worms or grubs, with half a dozen House Sparrows busy on the Seed Feeders, which are filled with high energy sunflower hearts although they are slightly more expensive than bird seed I find there is little mess or waste, the fat ball feeders are very popular with all the birds and need refilling the most often. The weathermen are predicting another cold snap this week from Wednesday onwards which they say will last well into next week I will be replenishing my stock of bird food to keep the feeders topped up.

We get a lot of Starlings and House Sparrows in our garden (both of which are in decline this has become apparent from the results of The Big Garden Birdwatches over the last 36 years) we also get the odd Blackbird, Wren, Robin and amazingly Goldcrest yet we have very few Blue, Great or Coal Tits, recently we have had regular visits from a family of Log-tailed Tits they are a delight to watch and are my favourite bird, we did the Big Garden Birdwatch at home yesterday (Sunday) we were down on species and numbers compared to last year I think this was partly due to the weather, it was definitely milder than previous days which could possibly mean that the birds were searching and finding food in the fields and hedgerows, I am sure the heavy drizzle didn’t help either.

Here is my ‘forecast’ for the week ahead:

  1. Turning colder
  2. Send in the results of The Big Garden Birdwatch
  3. Buy more Bird Food
  4. Keep the Bird Feeders topped up
  5. Stay warm inside and enjoy watching the birds in your garden

Love your environment – whatever the weather

Gill

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Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder

A Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder provides a high energy treat for the birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This weekend (24th/25th January) is the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch it began in 1979 and is one of the world’s largest wildlife surveys, last year nearly half a million people took part with 7,274,159 birds being counted. Each year the results are collated and are used to compare trends, monitor species, understand how birds are doing and take steps to put things right.

Schools are also invited to take part, they can do the Big Schools Birdwatch anytime this half term until the 13th February, and can Register and download specially designed classroom resources on the RSPB website.

How do you take part?

  1. Register for the Big Garden Birdwatch before this weekend, you will receive an information pack full of advice, information and a Bird ID guide.
  2. Put out bird feeders preferably containing high energy foods as well as a some fresh water, this can be done throughout the year not just during winter or for the Big Garden Birdwatch.
  3. Why not have a go at making your own Bird Cakes? Click here to find out how.

My Fat Ball and Feeder

On the weekend of the Birdwatch

  1. Make sure that your bird feeders are full and fresh water is available.
  2. Get a pen, paper, and a pair of binoculars, if you have some, and have a bird book or guide to birds handy, make it a family activity include as many people as you can, not all birds are easy to spot on the other hand you may suddenly have a large flock which can be difficult to count.
  3. Decide when you are going to do the Birdwatch, birds are often hungry early morning and late afternoon so you have a good chance of spotting a good variety during these times, on a cold dry day you can expect to see more birds than if it is wet and windy.
  4. Sit comfortably and watch the birds for an hour, count and record the highest number of each species of bird that you see at any one time.
  5. Submit your results online or by post by 13th February 2015.

The RSPB are interested in other British wildlife too and are asking you to let them know how often you see any of the following in your garden, park or local area:

Badger, Grey Squirrel, Red Squirrel, Muntjac Deer, Roe Deer, Hedgehog, Slow Worm, Grass Snake.

If you want more information on Feeding Garden Birds click here to have a look at our guide.

Why not practice your Bird Spotting skills before the weekend?

Have a look at our two new Garden Bird Competitions:

In the School Zone ‘Spot’ the 10 hidden garden birds in our wordsearch puzzle and you could win a

Birch Log Nest Box (pictured below)

Birch Log Hole Nest Box

a Wooden Peanut Butter Bird Feeder, a Discovery Seed Feeder and a Fat Ball Feeder.

In the Kids/Family Zone correctly identify the birds shown in the pictures and you could win a

Build Your Own Nest Box Kit (pictured below),

Build Your Own Nest Box

and a Wooden Peanut Butter Feeder.

The closing date for both competitions is 14th March, 2015.

Have a fabulous Bird Watching Weekend, I will be taking part too.

Gill

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We had a brilliant response to our October November Competitions, unfortunately there can only be one winner for each Zone, the lucky winners are:

In the Family Zone

John Stowe, Hampshire

In the School Zone

Fulbrook Middle School, Bedfordshire

both winners will receive:

Hogitat Hedgehog Home

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

A perfect winter retreat for your prickly garden friends

guide to Hedgehogs

Field Guide to Hedgehogs

and a pack of Hedgehog Food

Hedgehog Food

Well done to both of you and I hope that you soon have a Hedgehog making its home in your Hogitat

Look out for our next competitions in the New Year

Gill

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