Winter Wildlife Care
Many of us are wildlife lovers, and love seeing wildlife make our garden their home. From little tiny goldfinches, to hedgehogs and even the odd toad. While a lot of us remember to give our little friends that extra help to find food across the spring and summer, we don’t always remember that the end of autumn and throughout the winter is the hardest time for them. So why not have a think this year, about how you can help them out, and make this winter a little easier on them.
Winters effect on wildlife
During the winter food sources run scarce. There’s no longer berries on the bushes, flowers to make a meal out of, and very often, fewer people still putting out nuts and seeds. Yet this is the most important time to be storing up food.
As the cold hits the UK, these smaller creatures require a great deal more food to help them keep warm. And for the tiniest of birds, this means continuously foraging from dusk to dawn. Without this food it is unlikely that they can survive the harsh temperatures. By helping to make this easier for them, they will also be able to reserve more energy.
Prepare those who hibernate
In the UK there aren’t many animals that do use the winter to hibernate. However, this shouldnt mean that we don’t help to prepare them for it.
One of our firm favourites to see in the garden is the Hedgehog, who does hibernate. Preparing these little guys is fairly easy in the short term, however, there are also things you can do for the long run. Short-term, as we enter autumn, ensure that there is plenty of safe food for them to eat, limiting the amount of scavenging that they need to do, thus keeping their weight up. You can find hedgehog specific foods in a number of outlets, and almost all garden centres have a form of this available. They are also partial to a spot of dog and cat food, please put this somewhere safe that they can find it as we all know that cats are led by their stomachs and won’t think twice about eating the whole dish. Please avoid leaving milk out as they are lactose intolerant.
Long term help for hedgehogs includes introducing hedgehog huts to the bushes and sheltered areas in your garden, again these can be found in most garden centres, or if you’re feeling crafty these are as easy to make as a bird box. Make sure your entrance hole is large enough for a chubby hedgehog, but not big enough for a cat. It may take a couple of years for your hedgehog to make this home as they will want to get used to the area and ensure it is safe.
Similarly bats will also hibernate. These little guys love berries, so making these readily available just before hibernation can help to set them up for the long winter ahead. As with hedgehogs you can also get bat boxes which can make a safe home for the bats throughout winter.
Remember to feed
We know that when it’s cold out, raining or even snowing, we don’t really want to venture out into the garden. Unfortunately, not all garden creatures are able to stay indoors. So it’s even more important in this weather to make food readily available for them, limiting the time they have to spend exposed.
Keeping our bird feeders stocked with fresh seeds, our fat balls out where they can be enjoyed, and our squirrels nuts on show, we can help to ensure that our garden visitors have all they need to keep warm and happy come rain or frost.
Other great tips
If you have a pond in your garden, try not to let this freeze over where possible. If your pond does freeze over, avoid hard breaking the ice as you run the risk of harming anything underneath. Rather than pouring boiling water into the water and causing shock, try heating a pan and holding this against the surface to gently melt the ice away.
Rotten logs make a great source of food and warmth for our smaller creatures, bugs will thrive in this environment. So if you have a rotting log in your garden, rather than removing it and considering it as an eyesore, think of it as a winter bug hotel. They’ll appreciate it.
And finally, try to ensure that you have fresh water available in your garden. We don’t mean fresh tap water every couple of hours. We primarily mean that there is water available that is not frozen over. If you have a way of collecting rainwater this is great for garden creatures, and decanting this around the garden makes it easier for little creatures to get some.
Here at Abingdon’s we are big lovers of wildlife. So if there are any aspects of your garden that require a little help to make them wildlife friendly, get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help. We are also here for all of your winter garden maintenance.