Even with warm houses, an abundance of indulgent seasonal dishes, hats, scarves, toastie boots and overflowing hot chocolates, the cooler months of the year can be tough. We have luxuries all around us to help take care of ourselves during the brisk winds and dark evenings, yet with plummeting temperatures and a reduction in food, the wildlife can often have a difficult time. A few simple measures, and a little care can go a long way to the creatures left in the great outdoors, here’s how you can give them a helping hand.
Feed the Birds
As the trees lose their leaves and the spring and summer fruits are yet to blossom, birds often find their larders are left empty. With fewer insects and a hardened ground, a few seeds, table scraps or worms can go a long way in supporting them. The resident birds of the UK will appreciate a selection of seeds, nuts, cheese or fruit, either lay them on a bird table or head to your local garden supplier for a bird feeder.
Break the Ice
A frozen pond is a cause for concern for wildlife lovers. It reduces the oxygenation and can lead to a build-up of toxic gases in the water. This mixture can be deadly for the pond dwellers, be it fish or frogs. Either safely break the ice, without pouring hot water onto it as this can be dangerous to the creatures underneath or within or as a preventative measure, add a floating object.
Take Care of Your Amphibian Friends
Toads, newts and frogs spend a lot of their winter in either compost piles, leaves, under rocks and stones, hidden amongst plant pots or in the sludge at the bottom of ponds. Our cold-blooded friends go into a state of torpor in the winter months, rather than hibernating, which means when the temperature has raised a little, they will come out of their sleep and search for a bite to eat. To avoid disturbing them when they’re hidden away from the sharp winds and chilling temperatures, leave the overturning in your garden or rearranging until the spring has sprung and they’ll be greeted from their upheaval by the warming rays!
Leave Your Grass Long
During spring and summer, your gardening to-do list is added to and every couple of weeks, most of us get out our lawn mowers and tidy up any grass areas we may have. Although this may make your garden look more presentable, the long grass can actually provide a habitat for a diverse range of creatures, both large and small. A patch of long grass can become a feasting ground for birds, as well as a safe haven for insects.
Planting vibrant and pollen-rich plants in your green spaces is not only a fantastic way to brighten up the view outside of your window but it will also offer a banquet for the butterflies and bees seeking the sweet nectar. If there are certain flying insects which you are keen to attract, you may wish to choose plants which you know that they will love, a few examples for you below.
• Red Valerian
• Perennial Wallflower
Trees and Hedges
Birds and mammals are often searching for a safe haven, and they usually find it amongst the trees and hedgerows. Nesting birds will choose them as the site to raise their young while small mammals will rest and take shelter from the elements and potential predators.
Whether you throw on your food scraps or add in your garden trimmings, a compost pile can be a hub of activity for wildlife. Providing a fantastic and rich food source, a place to hibernate and in some cases, a place to call home.
Hedgehog Homes and Bird Boxes
With natural nesting sites in the UK dwindling, offering birds an alternative in the form of a box can be a great way to support them. A place where they bring up their young and rest, bird boxes are typically made from wood, and can be picked up from your local gardening shop or why not have a go at making one yourself?
With a voracious appetite for slugs, hedgehogs are every gardener’s friend. Creating a home for them in your garden can be as simple as popping a wooden box on the ground, somewhere relatively undisturbed. Try to put your hedgehog home in place during the spring or summer months, so that the spikey residents have time to adjust to the space before their winter hibernation.
At Quality Unearthed, one of our aims is to allow you to reconnect with the natural world around, while still having all of the creature comforts you’ve gotten used to and have grown to love. Whether you’re in Wales glamping, Dorset, Scotland, Devon or Somerset, take some time out of your holiday to simply sit and watch the natural world around you, you may be lucky enough to spot one of the creatures we’ve mentioned above!