As it’s Wild About Gardens Week, here are some practical ways that the RHA recommend to enhance your garden for wildlife, from feeding birds to building ponds. Get into the habit of doing these things and you’ll make a big difference to the wildlife you will find in your garden.
- Plant a tree – they are important for attracting wildlife because they produce large amounts of nectar at blossom time. They also attract mini-beasts that make their home in the bark, and birds come hunting them for food.
- Make a log shelter – dead wood is both home and food for various beetle grubs and many tiny creatures that make a tasty snack for birds, hedgehogs and frogs. You can get logs from tree surgeons or firewood dealers.
- Build a bug mansion which will attract insects and other creatures into your garden. You can make the basic framework out of five wooden pallets, and you can fill the gaps with dead wood, straw, hay, dry leaves and holes for toads and bees.
- Put in a pond – it will attract wildlife with amazing speed, including birds, amphibians, insects and mammals you might never see otherwise.
- Build a compost café – it will reduce landfill, enrich your soil and attract wildlife. All you need is waste organic material, air and water. Or you should be able to get one from local councils, as many now offer compost bins at reduced prices in a bid to reduce landfill.
Avaaz has launched an online petition calling on the EU to immediately ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.
The global advocacy organisation says: “Quietly, globally, billions of bees are dying, threatening our crops and food. But in 48 hours the European Union could move to ban the most poisonous pesticides, and pave the way to a global ban that would save bees from extinction.
“Four EU countries have begun banning these poisons, and some bee populations are already recovering. Days ago the official European food safety watchdog stated for the first time that certain pesticides are fatally harming bees.
“Now legal experts and European politicians are calling for an immediate ban. But, Bayer and other giant pesticide producers are lobbying hard to keep them on the market. If we build a huge swarm of public outrage now, we can push the European Commission to put our health and our environment before the profit of a few.
“We know our voices count! Last year, our 1.2 million strong petition forced US authorities to open a formal consultation on pesticides – now if we reach 2 million, we can persuade the EU to get rid of these crazy poisons and pave the way for a ban worldwide.
“Sign the urgent petition and share this with everyone – Avaaz and leading MEPs will deliver our message ahead of this week’s key meeting in Brussels.” Over 2 million have already signed the petition, Avaaz now hope to get 2.5 million.
Mistle thrushes are disappearing from UK gardens says the RSPB. The charity’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey – back this weekend – shows that mistle thrushes are now seen in fewer than half the number of gardens they were seen in ten years ago.
People are being urged to take part in the 34th annual Big Garden Birdwatch, on 26-27 January, to keep vital information about these, and other garden birds, coming. RSPB Conservation Director, Martin Harper, says: “Everyone that has ever taken part in Big Garden Birdwatch has helped to make us aware of huge changes in the populations of birds like house sparrows, starlings and song thrushes, leading us to do more work on the decline of these familiar birds.
“Mistle thrushes are already on the amber-list of conservation concern and are closely related to the threatened song thrush. The rate of decline we’ve seen throughout Big Garden Birdwatch suggests these species are in need of help.”
Almost 600,000 people across the UK, including 90,000 pupils and teachers at schools, took part in the Birdwatch last year counting more than 9 million birds between them. Everyone can join in by spending just one hour at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time then submitting the results to the RSPB.
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The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch is back on 26-27 January, giving people all over the UK the chance to be part of the world’s biggest wildlife survey.
To take part, people are asked to spend just one hour at any time over the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend, noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time. They then have three weeks to submit their results, either through the RSPB website or by post.
Now in its 34th year, the survey provides the RSPB with an important snapshot of garden bird populations in winter and has helped to highlight some dramatic declines in UK garden birds.
Sarah Houghton, RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Manager, said: ‘Everyone who takes part is contributing to the world’s biggest wildlife survey and helping us learn more about some of our most familiar garden birds.
‘The declines of birds like starlings and sparrows over the last 30 years or so have been alarming, but Big Garden Birdwatch has helped us find out more about their numbers and distribution across UK gardens, and that has been the first step in helping to put things right.”
Some bird species have fared considerably better over the years. None more so than the woodpigeon, which has increased by a massive 800% since 1979. Sightings of popular species like blue tits, great tits and coal tits in gardens have also risen.
Once you have registered with the RSPB website they will send you a free pack of hints and tips, some reminder emails, plus a £5 discount to use in the RSPB online shop. There’s also a counting sheet to download, which will help you to keep track of all the birds you spot.