This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. I am a 16 year old young naturalist with a passion for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. I have been blogging since May 2013 and you can read my old blog posts at www.appletonwildlifediary.blogspot.co.uk
Today starts another 30 Days Wild run by The Wildlife Trust. I’ve taken part in this for a number of years now, but if you haven’t heard of it before you can find more details by clicking HERE
During May we take part in No Mow May and at the beginning of May our garden looked like this
Now it looks like this
No Mow May is run by Plantlife and yesterday we took part in ‘Every Flower Counts’.
To do this you randomly select a 1 metre square grid and count the flowers within the grid, fill in a few questions on the Plantlife website and you get a Personal nectar score for the garden. Here’s mine.
The same as last year, we won’t be cutting the lawn until after the summer.
During lockdown and the current restrictions I’ve teamed up with family run Kennedy Wild Bird Food for a guest blog post on attracting wildlife to your garden and a chance to win a bundle of bird food and feeders.
Many people strive for a beautiful garden, but no garden would be complete without the sound of birds chirping and singing. Birds, and wildlife in general bring sound, colour and charisma to a garden.
Not only that, with declining numbers of birds, butterflies and many other wildlife species, it’s more important that every for us to try to create habits (and food sources) in our garden for as many of the Great Britain’s beautiful creatures as we can.
It’s no easy feat attracting wildlife to your garden, so here are a few tips and tricks to help transform your garden into a safe little haven for all kinds of wild birds.
1. Ensure you have enough plants and shrubbery
This one’s an easy one for the keen gardeners out there this one is something you’ll definitely be onboard with, but it is a fact that manicured and empty lawns are not of interest to birds and smaller ground creatures. They need shrubs, trees and climbers to pique their interest and encourage them to make your garden their new home. In fact, hedges are of interest to the likes of hedgehogs as well as birds by adding in a place for them to nest. It also gives them the ability to catch their own food as lots of insects tend to arrive wherever there is shrubbery, plants and hedges.
2. Provide them with food
One of the easiest things you can do to attract wildlife to your garden is ensure they have a constant food supply. Once the birds and bees and everything in between begin to associate your garden with food, you’ll have friends for life. Use a variety of feeding techniques and locations to attract as many birds as possible into your garden. Some common visitors may include Finches, Tits, Starlings, Sparrows, Blackbirds, Hedgehogs and Robins.
A little tip: In winter fat balls provide a great calorie boost for hungry birds, and in the breeding season putting out sunflower hearts will provide an excellent protein source for birds with hungry chicks to feed.
3. Make sure they have a safe environment
Just as people like to feel safe in their homes, so do our little friends! Somewhere secure away from possible predators and harm will make sure your garden is not only a place to feed for these animals, but a place to live. Birds especially spend a lot of their lives avoiding garden and won’t stay around for long if they hear a purring cat nearby. So, a great idea is to position feeding stations around the garden and try to place these shelters and feeders in places where the cats can’t reach. Instead, raise the height and put these things in a spot where birds can get a good view of the garden at all times.
4. Ensure they have a clean water supply
Wildlife enjoy a relaxing bath as much as everyone else does, especially the birds. That’s why it’s nice to create a sloping bath in your garden, which will encourage some feathers friends to stop by and use it. Remember to keep the water clean and refill it as often as you can. Make sure the water doesn’t go deeper than 10cm and ensure to add some flat stone in the centre of the bath. If you want to go the extra step, try giving them a nice steppingstone so they can jump out and fly away if they would like to.
5. Nest Boxes
All wildlife can benefit from nest boxes, particularly smaller birds who struggle to compete with their larger friends for a home. It’s all about the location, after all, and birds and creatures will be grateful for the long-term shelter and homes. According to the Royal society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), over 60 species have used nest boxes in the past. The most popular users include the likes of Robins, House Sparrows, Blue Tits and Goldfinches.
If you would like a chance of winning the bundle of the Kennedy Wild Bird Food and feeders pictured below to start attracting wildlife to your garden.
Just answer the following question:
What has been your favourite bird that has visited your garden during lockdown?
Leave your answer in the comments below by 7th June 2020.
One lucky winner will be chosen to win this prize bundle, and notified on 8th June 2020.
7 years ago this week I started to blog about the wildlife in my garden and on my local patch.
I think over the past couple of months, wildlife and nature close to home has been an important part of many people’s lives.
The past 7 years have been an amazing journey from watching and photographing fantastic wildlife, meeting inspirational people, attending some motivational talks and conferences to writing my own book.
I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the people that take the time to read my blog, follow me on social media and to those who have bought a copy of GET YOUR BOOTS ON
I hope that I have shown you some interesting moments of nature and inspired you to discover the wildlife on your own doorstep
Over the past week or so we’ve noticed a number of the seedlings in the porch, especially the sunflowers, have been nibbled.
The other afternoon we found the culprit, a wood mouse.
We have a lot of wood mice around us, but they generally only come in the porch or even get in the house in the winter. This one probably couldn’t resist the trays of plants, although it did seem to only bite through the stalks but not actually eat any of them.
In the garden, a mouse or something similar has been taking bites out of the radishes and potatoes.
With the weasel and the number of cats that visit, the mouse is probably safer in the porch.
Hares (Brown Hare – Lepus europaeus) are one of my favourite animals, I love the gangly awkwardness about them.
Around where I live we have good years and bad years for hares. I’m not sure why, it could just be that they only go in certain fields when there are certain crops and therefore I see them more often in particular years.
I live in an area where hare coursing is active and you can read more about hare coursing HERE on the League against Cruel Sports website.
A male hare is called a Jack and a female a Jill
They have long black-tipped ears, powerful hind legs and a black tip to their tail
Hares grow to about 50 – 60 cms
Hares have a life span of 3 to 4 years
They have a top speed of 56 kilometers per hour making them the UK’s fastest land mammal.
They don’t live in burrows like rabbits but lie in a small dip in the ground called a form.
Hares can have 3 to 4 litters a year with 2 to 4 young in each
The young are called leverets and are born with fur and their eyes open.
Hares feature a lot in mythology and the ‘Easter bunny’ was most likely a hare after Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, whose companion was a hare
The iconic image of boxing hares is a female hare telling a male hare she isn’t interested or ready to mate.
In Get Your Boots On Chapter 5 is started with a photo of a hare that I took for a competition back in 2016.
The book is available through good bookshops, online or direct from the publisher by clicking HERE
This will be the second year we have taken part in No Mow May in our front garden.
The campaign is run by PlantLife and you can read more details about it HERE
There are three simple steps:
Simply leave your mower in the shed for No Mow May and let the flowers grow.
From 23rd May to 31st May take part in Every Flower Counts by counting the number of flowers in a random square metre of your lawn.
Enter your counts on the PlantLife website and instantly receive your very own Personal Nectar Score, showing how much nectar is being produced by the flowers on your lawn and how many bees it can support.
The photos below were taken at the beginning of May. There are buttercups, daisies, cowslips, and the start of Oxeye Daisies. After a week the garden is already starting to look a lot different.
We have added some wildflower seeds so hoping for some other species to come up.
We do mow one strip on the edge as last year we found that some bees and birds prefer short grass.
It is only a small patch of garden but we get plenty of visitors, including insects, butterflies, bank voles, wood mice, foxes, badgers, and last week a hedgehog.
The hedge was planted a few years ago and we have noticed a large increase in the number of sparrows and other birds using the garden.
This was what the garden looked like at the end of May last year
Over the past week, I have had my trail cameras out in the front garden in the hope to capture our local vixen or even a badger. However, the cameras picked up something out of the ordinary, a hedgehog!