By Nicky Hedgecock
The drive to be out in the garden isn’t always as strong this time of year, when you look out of the window at the, often, gloomy weather. Once you are out there, however, digging, sweeping, composting and pruning, you soon warm up and appreciate the sense of calm that any green space can offer you, no matter how small. It is also a good time, with everything slowing down, to have a think about what you could do to encourage some wildlife into your space.
If you are lucky enough to have a garden, you could build some bird nesting boxes to place in your trees or build a bat box or hedgehog home. There are plenty of templates on the internet or you could buy one from a garden centre or pet store. If you have a balcony or yard, you can plant flowers or bulbs for spring that will attract bees and butterflies, maybe make an insect ‘hotel’, for the little critters to overwinter safely.
If you don’t have your own outdoor space you can always head out and try and spot some wildlife. If you avoid busy times at the local park or try dawn and dusk, you may be surprised at how much activity you can spot or see evidence of. Just listening to bird song can lift your spirits, try and identify two or three of the ones you hear most often. Foxes can be very brazen these days, as we encroach on their homes, and can be spotted frequently in the parks or even walking down a town road! Squirrels are amusing, collecting and burying their food ready for winter, even if it does, sometimes, upset your freshly planted pots of bulbs.
Being a little more rural you may be lucky enough to see evidence of badgers. Their setts are easy to identify and if you don’t actually see them or their setts, you may find the regular trails they use each day to move around. It will look like a narrow, well-trodden, path coming out of/going in to thicket, woodland, across fields etc. Even if you are not lucky enough to spot one it is reassuring to know they are about.
For those of you who are really keen and have the time and energy, you could look into any projects going on in your area involving conservation and biodiversity improvement. If there are none, maybe you could approach the local landowner about adding some nesting boxes, creating some standing deadwood habitats or leaving some natural debris piles for insects and small mammals.
We all benefit from wildlife, never mind how big or small, and the more diverse the better. It is a lovely feeling to know you are doing your bit to share your space with nature.