With the cooler weather in the
winter months, it is important to think of the wildlife that are active
throughout this time. Birds especially can rely on our gardens as a place where
they can get food, which can be hard to find when the ground is frozen. Here in
the Cairngorms, Winters can be six months long, so there are a few simple
things that we can do to ensure our wildlife makes it through these often
Before Winter arrives, there are things you can do to ensure the animals that hibernate, or stash food can get as much as possible. If you have apple trees in your garden, simply leave the ones that have fallen or are inedible. These are a perfect source of food for wintering thrushes like Redwing and Fieldfare, Blackbirds and mammals like Badgers and Red Squirrel. If all of those fallen Autumn leaves look messy, sweep them into a wild part of the garden for Hedgehogs to shelter and hibernate through the winter months. Before the frost arrives, digging up the last of the vegetable patch, turns the soil providing birds and Badgers with fresh worms to fill them up.
No matter how you feed the wildlife in your garden, providing them with food in the Winter can help the smallest of birds make it through till Spring. Peanuts are a perfect source of protein and fat balls or blocks are good source of fats. If you don’t like the mess of seeds, sunflower hearts are perfect as no shell gets left behind. It is also important to provide wildlife with water that can often be frozen over, so defrosting bird baths when it is cold will help them keep hydrated.
January is an ideal time to start putting up nesting boxes. Whether it is a bird box for your favourite garden birds, bat boxes or mammal boxes, January gives them a chance to get used to a new facility before using it to breed in the Spring. They can also become a shelter in the harsh winter days.
Every January, when bird activity in gardens are high due to the cold, The RSPB run a Big Garden Bird Watch, encouraging members of the public to get involved. As there is a worry that our garden bird species are declining, this survey helps the RSPB in their research. Taking place over this weekend, choose one hour to sit and observe the species that are visiting your garden. It couldn’t be easier! All you need to do is sign up for a counting sheet to submit to the Big Garden Birdwatch 2020.