Winter can be a difficult time for British wildlife. As the nights draw in and the temperature begins to drop, native animals such as hedgehogs have to look for a safe, comfortable place to hibernate until spring. Sources of nutrition also become scarce for butterflies, birds and bees.
Creating a sanctuary for wildlife in the autumn and winter can make all the difference to the survival of our native species. And it does not have to mean buying expensive items from the garden centre.
Do not be too tidy
If it’s possible, leave an area of your garden a bit messier and more overgrown. Hedgehogs and a whole host of wildlife such as dormice can use piles of leaves, small branches to make nests with. A wild space also provides a shelter for insects which birds and hedgehogs can eat. If you have any trees that need pruning, get a professional to do it. Contact a Poole Tree Surgeon at a site like kieranboylandtreeservices.com
Building a hedgehog house
A hedgehog home can be constructed out of wood piles, which will provide our spiky friends with a place to hide, sleep and hunt for insects. The shelter is very important for the survival of hedgehogs during the winter so find a secluded spot that will be undisturbed between November and March during hibernation.
Buying bird boxes
Installing a small bird nesting box will mean it can be used as a shelter in the winter and often birds will return to the same box in spring to nest. The RSPB recommends that you locate your nesting box facing between north and east, so that it is shielded from direct sunlight, wind and rain. It should also be kept well out of reach of any neighbourhood cats or squirrels.
Keeping your pond uncovered
Unless you have a very shallow pool, it won’t freeze and so will remain an important place for birds to drink and find bugs and insects to eat when food and water sources are scarce. The bath is also important for birds because they need to keep their feathers in good condition and covered with natural oils to help keep them warm. Of course, ponds are also essential for frogs and toads before they hibernate for the winter.
Top up your bird bath
Make sure your bird bath has clean water and stays ice free. A table tennis ball placed in the water is enough to keep it from icing over and you can also install a heated bath or move one to a place where it will get the most sun.
Adding a hedge
It’s best to use a hedge instead of a fence for privacy in your garden because they also provide a comfortable place for hedgehogs and other wildlife before they hibernate.
Fill your bird feeder
Fat balls and high calorie filled cakes are the perfect food for birds during winter. If they come in a mesh bag to take this off first, because birds can be trapped in it. You can make your own by adding a variety of seeds, nuts and cheese into suet or lard.