Merseyside people urged to lend a hand for nature this winter. As the days and nights become colder, many people are tempted to retreat from the garden and snuggle indoors until spring. But before getting too comfortable, spare a thought for the wildlife shivering outside and follow the RSPB s top tips to help birds and other creatures get through the coldest months.
At this time of year, all types of wildlife will start preparing for the winter, and the RSPB is calling on the residents of Merseyside to lend a helping hand to ensure there is enough food and shelter.
Dan Trotman, Visitor Development Officer for the RSPB s Dee Estuary nature reserve, said: Autumn is a great time of year to do all sorts of jobs to give nature a home in your outside space whether it s a
large garden or a small window box: build or buy a hedgehog shelter, also known as a hogitat ; put up nest boxes; dig a pond or tidy up your existing one; or you could even plant bulbs ready to attract bees and other insects next summer.
But if this sounds like a lot of hard work, don t worry, doing nothing can also help: holding off pruning your hedges is a great way of helping wildlife without actually having to do anything. Leaving them until around February next year means the berries will be able to be eaten throughout the winter.
There are a number of simple things that can be done in the garden to help nature now and in the coming months:
Put up a nestbox Many birds, such as tits and wrens, use nestboxes as safe places to sleep through the autumn and winter.Plus, if it goes up now, it will be ready in plenty of time for next spring when birds are looking for a new home.
Build an insect home Bugs also need somewhere to spend thewinter. Short lengths of drinking straws, hollow canes or plant stems, tied in bundles make great shelters for lacewings and ladybirds.
Putting off the pruning of borders and shrubs until early spring will also provide a home for insects through winter.
Stock up the bird table Birds use up a lot of energy keeping warm so winter is the most important time to make sure they are well fed. Bird seed mixes are available to buy but scraps will also do very nicely. The more variety of food provided, the greater range of species are likely to be attracted.
Plant a fruiting hedge At this time of year, traditional
countryside hedges are full of blackberries, elderberries, rosehips and sloes, forming a supply of food for birds through the winter. Mimic the traditional hedgerow by planting a fruiting hedge.
Take care on Bonfire Night If celebrating 5 November with a bang, do not set fireworks off near trees and bushes as it could disturb roosting birds and cause them to move on and use up valuable energy they can t afford to use. Also, take extra care when building a bonfire. Log piles and leaves are the perfect spot for hibernating hedgehogs and they will usually be buried right at the bottom. Build bonfires on the day to ensure no prickly guests have moved in.
The RSPB recently launched a campaign to help tackle the crisis facing the UK s threatened wildlife. Giving Nature a Home is urging everyone to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside
spaces. The charity hopes to inspire people across the UK to create a million new homes for nature.
The campaign comes after 25 wildlife organisations, including the RSPB, released the groundbreaking State of Nature report, which revealed that 60 per cent of the wildlife species studied, including garden favourites like starlings, hedgehogs and some butterflies, have declined over recent decades. And they are in danger of further declines unless more is done to provide better habitats.
The Giving Nature a Home website provides excellent information about helping nature in any outside space whether it s a huge garden or a small planting tub on a balcony. Find out more at rspb.org.uk/homes. Or
visit one of your local RSPB reserves, such as Burton Mere Wetlands or Marshside, for face-to-face, expert advice from knowledgeable staff and volunteers.
To find your local RSPB reserve, or seasonal events taking place near
you, visit www.rspb.org.uk/events