CREATE YOUR GARDEN PATCH FROM SCRATCH
Preparing your garden for birds and wildlife can be a fun-filled activity for the whole family
ITH THE WEATHER finally taking a turn for the warmer, it’s been a month for taking stock and starting to enjoy the garden. It’s also been a chance to watch what’s going on very closely, with a view to making the tweaks necessary to make it an even more wildlife-friendly space. And now is the perfect time to get the kids involved – they’ll have great fun helping out (as shown in the stepby-step guide photos to the right).
The pond is now showing its worth, with Robins coming down to bathe and drink from the edge on a regular basis, and insect life emerging from it and its environs (although we’ve weeded in some of the flower beds, the area around the pond has been left to grow fairly wild). There’s been movement at night, too, suggesting a newt may be moving in. We’re avoiding pesticides of all sorts, and so far we’re not getting any real problems with aphids or small insects, but one tip suggested to me was to spray any aphid-infested foliage with very dilute washing-up liquid. But anyway, we’re still all about encouraging insects, so after putting up a shop-bought lacewing and ladybird hotel, I sat down with Charlotte, 8, and Jacob, 7, to make our own from an old pop bottle, some corrugated cardboard, and a bundle of sticks and bamboo canes. You need a sharp knife and secateurs, so adult supervision is essential, but despite some interference from two canines, who consider every stick in the garden their own property, it was a quick and easy way to add another potential home for insect life.
We’re lucky in that our town still has a good population of House Martins (still plenty of older houses to provide them with homes), and on fine evenings there have been plenty overhead, while Swifts arrived around 4 May and have been present in good numbers since. The highlight, though, was a male Cuckoo that appeared on the aerial of a neighbouring house, making an odd chattering call, before singing its familiar song from somewhere just out of sight later in the day. Finally, I’ve been careful to keep the feeders and bird bath topped up. While the seed feeders are only being used sporadically, the suet pellets disappear just as quickly as in the depths of winter, so hopefully those adult birds foraging for insect food for their young are getting their own sustenance the quick and easy way.