Sharing your garden with wildlife….birds, bees, butterflies, bugs, frogs, newts and even hedgehogs…..can give you so much joy.
Attracting wildlife with the best food and habitat will soon transform your garden into a hive of activity.
Whether you wish to encourage hedgehogs, birds or pond life, our article shows you how.
Let me tell you about Mr Spike, a hedgehog, who is a regular visitor to our garden between March and November.
We were first introduced to Mr Spike when we moved into our bungalow over six years ago. Marjorie, the lady who sold us the bungalow, said that she had seen hedgehogs in the garden occasionally.
On clearing away a few of the leaves she was thrilled to discover the spines of a hedgehog. We had discovered the home of Mr Spike Mark 1.
I say Mr Spike Mark 1, as hedgehogs don’t live very long and they also do the rounds of several gardens in a single night….so you never know which hedgehog you are looking at.
The major food sources for hedgehogs are beetles, earthworms and caterpillars.
However if you wish to leave out a succulent treat for your garden friends, then they will welcome a meat based pet food or dry sunflower hearts. A dish of water is also essential.
Hedgehogs face many perils when they wander through our gardens.
These dangers were graphically illustrated during the summer when Mr Spike Mark ?? activated the security light overlooking our back garden.
After eating his sunflower hearts, he balanced precariously on the edge of our pond before deciding that he couldn’t reach the water.
Then he got caught up in the fine netting which we had put over some seedlings. After struggling for a few minutes, he managed to free himself.
We had learnt two salutary lessons. All kinds of netting (pea netting, football and tennis nets) should be kept a foot above the ground. Escape routes should be provided in ponds. In this pond a pot has been laid at an angle so the hedgehog can clamber out.
Alternatively you can place plastic coated wire over the side of a pond and into the water to make a ladder.
If you want to learn about how you can help hedgehogs in their struggle to survive, take a walk down Hedgehog Street
Attracting birds to our garden has given us so much pleasure. Certain birds prefer particular types of food, so here is a quick guide.
- Popular with house sparrows, woodpeckers and greenfinches
- Crushed peanuts attract robins, wrens and dunnocks
- Do not leave out whole peanuts in the spring as they may choke chicks
- Liked by finches
- Goldfinches love the nyjer seed we put out for them
- You will need as special feeder as the seeds are so small
This bird feeder is ideal if you have a very small garden or are house bound. You can stick it with suction pads to your window, which enables you to get a really close look at tits and finches..
- Finches, tits, sparrows and blackbirds love them
- High in fat and protein
- Year round food source
- Great for robins, house sparrows, tits and starlings. A family of starlings devoured four of our fat balls in two days.
- Put some fat balls on the ground to cater for ground feeding birds such as blackbirds
- An all round favourite packed with protein
- Particularly beneficial in spring when parents are feeding their chicks
Another great source of wildlife is a pond. You are probably thinking that your garden is far too small for a pond….or it is a huge amount of work and expense. Actually just a bucket sunk in the ground will attract an amazing amount of wildlife.
The first thing to decide is the type of container you are going to use…..
- Half a wooden beer barrel
- An old galvanised bath tub
- A preformed rigid plastic pond
- A plastic washing up bowl
A steep sided container can present a challenge to small beasties when they try to get out of the pond, so a preformed pond is recommended.
Stones or bricks can be placed inside your container, so creatures can clamber out and plants positioned at the right level.
Irises, equisetum, water lilies and oxygenating plants, such as water violet are ideal plants.
Here are five golden rules to follow when you are creating your pond….
- Use rainwater NOT tap water
- Any soil you introduce should be aquatic compost
- Think carefully before introducing fish as they will eat wildlife in your pond
- Ensure that your pond has different levels so creatures can get in and out
- Keep the pond topped up using water from a water butt
We hope you enjoy watching the birds, beasties and wiggly things you attract to your garden.
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