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Helping Wildlife (2003)

Page updated - 02 October 2009

For further information - Suffolk Wildlife Trust on 01473 890089 or Suffolk Wildlife Trust Website

Cornard News - This advice was previously published in Cornard News

2003 Autumn

Issue 15


Sadly, the local wildlife is diminishing. Here a few suggestions that can be implemented in your garden to help their survival. The following suggestions are for the late summer/autumn period with some being appropriate throughout the year:

1/. Before cutting that shrub, hedge or tree check for the late nesting of birds and also for hedgehogs in ground covering shrubs.

2/. Remember, piles of grass, hedge cuttings etc. do attract reptiles, many invertebrates and hedgehogs. Indeed reptiles and hedgehogs may well seek to hibernate within these piles. If this ‘feature’ cannot be retained as a habitat please take to your local recycling centre. If you must burn it, break the material down and burn elsewhere.

3/. Birds and their young have a better chance of survival if food and water are provided all year. Drought periods in summer will cause extreme hardship to some species with young in the nest and, when freezing conditions prevail, they will know where to come for that life saving snack. Cats take a very large number of birds, small mammals and reptiles. Cats in the garden may mean the feeding of birds could lure them to their doom so make sure the bird table is as cat-proof as possible. Try and site bird tables, and birdbaths, clear of ground cover plants, where cats may hide, and preferably in the middle of a lawn or patio.

4/. Don’t be too tidy in your garden; leave some seeded weeds and/or flower heads for seed-eating birds. This is very important for the winter period.

5/. The decline of our wildlife is in part due to habitat loss including nesting sites. Autumn is a good time to establish nest boxes and, depending on the habitat, possibly bat boxes.

Why not spare a few moments to look some of the butterflies around at present. The Painted Lady butterfly is orange/red spotted with black and white and has arrived in Cornard after a journey of some 2000km (1300 miles) from North Africa. Quite a journey for such a delicate insect!

As a final note: Hedgehogs have recently disappeared from my garden. Many have been road casualties but many have lost their winter sanctuary under the old shed or pile of timber, now gone to make space for the extra cars in the family. A loose pile of branches may serve the purpose, if of good size.

George Millins – Local Conservationist

2003 Winter

Issue 16

Helping Wildlife

I am grateful to have a second opportunity to help our local wildlife over the winter period.

Some suggestions from the previous issue should be applied through the winter season, e.g. continue to feed birds in open locations with minimum ground cover to reduce the threat of predation by cats; also water is vital during very cold spells.  Resist tidiness over the entire garden, weed and flower seeds are important for seed eating birds (Evening Primrose in particular has attracted goldfinches to my suburban garden) and the foliage will harbour invertebrates for the insectivores such as Wrens, Goldcrests and the Tit family.  The latter do have alternatives but long tailed tits prefer to forage in groups through taller herbaceous growth, shrubs and hedges for insects and caterpillars.

Any remaining piles of branches, hedge cuttings or garden debris would have attracted reptiles or amphibians that may be on site, as a hibernaculum’s (winter quarters of a hibernating animals); if of sufficient size and not too compact it may attract hibernating hedgehogs who could use this feature next summer as a nest site – remember, hedgehogs are in decline in urban/suburban areas.  Please try to tolerate these valuable features through the winter, they can be dismantled in mild weather, late February or early March – if you must burn, break down the materials carefully (immature amphibians or reptiles are not easy to see) and burn elsewhere. Bird boxes or in larger gardens with mature trees, bat boxes, can be established – reduced bird and bat populations can, at least in part be attributed to the lack of, and destruction of, nesting and roost sites respectively.

On a lighter note, look out for over-wintering Blackcap or late winter/early spring, Siskin and Brambling may be seen in small numbers en route to their summer breeding grounds.  Our County Bird Recorder would be pleased to receive any unusual sightings – surveying and recording are fundamental to any conservation effort. HAPPY CHRISTMAS.

George Millins – Local Conservationist.