Autumn Watch.Published on 28th October 2014
Chris Packham and the BBC have done wonders for the nation’s collective knowledge of the wildlife Britain has to offer. Every spring and autumn, they fill our screens with outstanding footage of animals in their natural habitats; birds; mammals; amphibians; invertebrates; the lot! But while autumn is a good time to see grey seals and porpoise off the Pembroke coast, or rutting red deer in Scotland, we tend to forget just how much fauna can be seen from the comfort of our own backyard
An Apropos conservatory can make a wonderful wildlife hide; with a few carefully placed feeding stations and some clever planting, your back garden can become a veritable wildlife haven, for you to sit back and enjoy.
We’re approaching the time of year when British wildlife needs most help. You can do this the natural way, by planting winter berry-bearing shrubs, such as mahonia, ivy and juniper, and leaving a few wild patches for creatures to nest, but there are other ways to get a bit more hands-on.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Hedgehogs are particularly struggling at the moment and this can be a dangerous time for them. In October they will be preparing to hibernate, but if they don’t get enough food beforehand, they won’t wake up from their long winter sleep. If you have hedgehogs in your area, buy some prepared food to help them along (never feed them bread and milk). Also try to set up a ‘hogitat’ in an undisturbed part of your garden.
- Look out for toads when tidying your garden. An upturned broken terracotta pot filled with dry leaves can make a wonderful toad hotel.
- If you’re a friend to squirrels, put out some peanuts, but if you want to feed the birds, buy special squirrel-proof food dispensers.
- For the garden ornithologist, autumn in the ideal time to spot Robins, Tits, Starlings, Finches and Redwings. Thrushes and – if you’re really lucky – Mistle Thrushes can also be seen utilising garden feeders, along with species less commonly found in the garden, such as Siskin, Brambling and Fieldfare, all looking for winter sustenance. To attract the widest range possible, put out a variety of foods – high protein sunflower seeds, peanuts, meal worms – and make sure that there is fresh water available.
- Some people view the fox as a pest, but they’re beautiful and fascinating creatures, and if they’re well fed, they’ll leave your bins alone!